When learning about writing, I frequently come across succinct little pieces of advice, which can be helpful, but also misleading. “If you want to be a writer, just write, there’s nothing more to it.” “Writers need to do two things; read a lot and write a lot.” But what does it actually look like? I’m a firm believer that writing requires many skills, and I also believe it’s important to continue to work at each aspect each week (at least a little), but what are the categories, and how should I divide my time among them?
On a basic level all stories are a combination of 4 components; characters, a plot, a setting, and one or more ideas, which in this case refer to the underlying questions being explored. Ideas can be as simple as “how will the protagonist accomplish their goal”, or as complex as the purpose or meaning of life.
Use What You Have
Most stories start small; a character, a conflict, an interesting place. Whichever piece you have, start with that and build out.