Advice for Writing YOUR Story

Growing up, a part of me knew I always wanted to write stories. Before I found my love for writing, I would spend hours reading J. K Rowling, Beverly Clearly, and Roald Dahl. The stories of wizards, growing up, chocolate factories, and giant peaches filled my head with wonder and amazement. I wanted to be part of their worlds, but another part of me wanted to create those kinds of worlds for others, too.

I now spend every moment possible writing. I have made it a priority to write every day if I can to help my head not explode with words. I am on the last edit of my first novel and am currently in the beginning stages of 2 others. I still feel a little bit of shame when people ask,” Are you a writer?” because its still stuck in my mind that “writers” are published and have their names on bookshelves. But I am retraining myself to say, “Yes, I am writer.”

I am not an expert on this topic by any means, but I also do believe that all of us have a story to tell. I am the middle child of 2 brothers and although we were all raised in the same household, we could not be more different. The different does not make any of us less, though. Just like someone’s story of being raised in South Africa can make someone in Oakland feel heard and seen for the first time. Poetry in a few verses can transport us to a whole different reality. Even science fiction can make us believe that there is more outside of Earth and what being human can mean.

However, being human can be a consciousness of creation. A creation of hoping for the right word at 3 AM, a story that pops up in the middle of what seems like nowhere, and sometimes, it’s buying that notebook that you swear you are going to use. If we are honest with ourselves though, being human also means buying that notebook and adding to the collection of the 5 others you already have.

But my writing advice is this:

  1. Take care of yourself first. If you aren’t feeling well mentally or physically, take it as a sign that today is not a day for creating. That is okay.

  2. If you feel the need to create, turn off distractions, and just begin. A first draft will not be perfect, but you must start somewhere.

  3. Do not worry about if no one “gets” your story. There is going to always be critics. I mean JK Rowling got rejected over 20 times before Harry Potter.

  4. Have snacks and water close by while writing. Having them close by will make it so you don’t have to get up less and potentially lose your stamina.

  5. Always have paper close by. (Even in the car) You never know when creativity will strike you.

  6. Write for simple fact of just doing it. Getting hung up on being published and making money off of it can really stud creativity and ideas.

  7. Your journey is yours only. Don’t compare your beginning to someone’s end.

  8. Don’t wait for inspiration. Just open a document and type whatever comes to mind. You can edit later. Just get some words on paper.

  9. Pay attention to your own voice. Yours is unlike anyone else’s! We need your voice!

  10. Write what you know. We all have people and events that have shaped us. Think of how that changed you. Write about it.

Jordan O'Halloran lives in Lake County, California with her fiancé and their cat, Fuzzykins. By day, she works at a non-profit and every other moment is spent writing. Jordan is in the querying stage of her debut novel and is in the beginning stage of 2 others. When not writing, you can find her cooking vegetarian food, daydreaming about trees and the ocean, or taking a nap. You can find some of her writing in Santa Barbara Literary Journal Volume 2: Cor Serpentis. You can follow her journey on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram as Jordanjotsjoy.