This ongoing series about how to be a writer is hosted by Paper Lantern Lit. For more information on the How to be a Writer series and on Paper Lantern Lit, please scroll to the bottom of the page.
So, you want to write something—a poem, an essay, a memoir, or even your very own novel—but don’t know where to start? The first step to writing is asking questions. Be curious about your world, the environment around you, and other people. That curiosity and willingness to learn about something new could very well spark the idea for your next big writing project.
Questions can be big, like: what was life like for the Neanderthals? What if electricity had never been invented? What if you COULD walk the horizon like a tightrope, or if the world ran out of water, or if people could come back from the dead? But questions can be small, too; just because a question is small, doesn’t mean it can’t have huge impact on a story. For example: how many different kinds of roses are there? What is your favorite scent in the world? What’s the one memory you’d go back to and visit every day, if you could?
Remember that writing is a lifelong skill—just because one question is answered doesn’t mean a thousand more won’t pop up in its place. But that’s okay, because hidden inside those questions could be the answer you’re looking for: the starting point for the greatest story you’ll ever tell…so far.
Free write for 10 minutes, but there’s one rule: everything you write has to be a question! The questions can be big or small, based on real life or a fictional world, but each sentence should reflect your curiosity. At the end of the 10 minutes, go through the questions and circle the ones you are inspired by most—is there a larger story behind them?
About the “Writing is as Easy as ABC…” Series
Part of Paper Lantern Lit’s mission is to make the sometimes difficult task of writing accessible to everyone—and that means sharing some of our tried-and-true brainstorming tips, writing exercises, and breaking down the ways that successful writers and editors think about their “craft” into a language that teens can not only comprehend, but find motivating. Our hope with the “Writing is as Easy as ABC” series is that each individual element discussed will help you think about writing in a new, fun way: you don’t just sit down and magically compose a masterpiece; just like books are made up of thousands of beautiful sentences, those sentences are made up of only 26 letters. 26 letters in the alphabet, but endless possibilities! By breaking down the writing process into alphabet-inspired sections with corresponding exercises, you can take writing one step at a time—until you feel confident to break free of the format and write a masterpiece of your own!