I don’t know if it’s the first step, but it’s the first step I’m giving: answer the following questions. I suggest you write your answers.
[Should you write by hand? Type it? Let’s dispense with the first myth: that it matters how you do it. Just write! Which is not to say that typing and handwriting are the same thing. Sometimes I write by hand, sometimes by computer, sometimes by vintage typewriter. Each experience is different, but none is the secret to good writing (because there is no secret).]
Back to the questions. I recommend that you write long, leisurely answers to these questions at every stage of your growth. You’ll know when it’s time to revisit them, when you’ve grown: you can sense it, just like I can take one look at my daughter and know it’s time to put her against the door frame and put a pencil on top of her head.
1. Why do you want to become a writer?
2. What are the books that you return to over and over, and what is it that appeals to you about them? (If no books come to mind, return to question #1.)
3. What do you want to write, and why do you want to write it?
4. Who might be interested in reading your work? (Not family, not a writing group; this is about actual readers with no external motivation to read your writing.)
5. What are your strengths as a writer?
6. What are your weaknesses?
7. How would you describe your writing style?
8. What do you think writing can do that no other art form can do?
9. What do you think your writing can say or do? Define your vision.
10. How do you define growth as a writer? What is the next level you’d like to achieve?
For next time, bonus question:
How have you grown and changed–evolved!–since the last time you answered these questions?