After my Feb. 27 column on writing, I’ve gotten a lot of feedback from people who say they want to start writing, but haven’t yet. It is difficult to simply sit down and write if you haven’t ever written, or haven’t written in a long time.

I started writing in my first journal when I was seven. My mom encouraged me to write in it every day, even if it was just a little bit. Some days I had no trouble writing in my diary. Other days, she had to make me sit down and write.

My first journal entries were about my dog, Benji; a wolf spider we caught and kept as a pet; and having dinner with family friends. I wrote in simple sentences that were written out phonetically, with the spelling horribly butchered. But at the time, that’s the writer I was.

As I got older, my handwriting got better, my spelling improved, and my journal entries became longer. I now have about 12 journals full of daily musings and stories from my life. I’m really glad my mom made me write every day because it became a habit, and now I have the events of my life recorded on paper.

I don’t write every day now, though I wish I did. During a busy day, it’s hard to set aside time to write. At the same time, I often get the urge to go scribble in my journal about whatever is going on in my life, just in case I forget about it later.

A lot of people I’ve talked to have tons of life stories they’d like to record. And I’m sure some of them may be mulling over the best way to go about doing that. I don’t think there’s one “right way” to go about writing that works for everybody, but I do have a few suggestions for those who may be struggling to get started.

• First, make yourself sit down and write every day. This may be hard to do, but there are 24 hours in a day. Find a time, even if it’s only 15 or 20 minutes, and make yourself write. It may seem like a chore at first, but eventually it will become a habit.

• Start small. Don’t push yourself to write an excessive amount each day. Even if you only write a few sentences, this is a good start. Also, be sure to write in your own words. Start with a story from your life that you remember well. Try to write it as though you were talking to your closest friend, but don’t assume they know everything about you. Fill in your story with vivid details and descriptions.

• You may want to write about past events and stories from you life in chronological order. However, early events may come to mind later as you write. When you write, date everything to the best of your ability, either by month and year, just the year, or the age you were when the event happened. Then, you can go back and re-order everything chronologically later.

• If you plan to reorder entries later, you probably will not want to write in a bound book. You can write on loose-leaf paper and put it in a binder or folder. If you don’t like writing by hand, you can type up your entries on a computer. I recommend saving often and printing a hard copy when you’re done, just in case your hard drive crashes.

• If you don’t remember many past events or don’t want to write about them, you can start keeping a current journal. Use it to record daily events, thoughts, or ideas.

• Try writing in different settings. Quiet, scenic locations are always good for writing. Sometimes going back to places where events happened can help you remember them. Also, music that you may have listened to in the past can help you remember events and experiences.

• Never be afraid to try something new or different until you find what you like. Your approach to writing may be totally different from anything you’ve ever heard of. You can experiment with different styles and voices until you find the one that’s yours. Once you find it, you may discover that you love writing.



Elise Loyola is a staff writer for the Clinton Herald. She has been here since November 2008 and she can be reached at eliseloyola@clintonherald.com.