Welcome to the Writer’s Life

Fountain Pen Pic

Today’s Blog Hop Topic: Advice I’d Give a Newbie Writer

It’s such a huge topic. I can only scratch the surface, but here goes.

Know yourself.

While I’m not advocating self-centredness, I do believe we have to know who we really are to find “our authentic writer’s voice.”

For example, I am very much relationship-driven. While I don’t want to bypass the reader’s intellect, I do want my writing to touch their hearts and emotions. For the most part, I look for the same in what I read.

Identify yourself as a writer.

You may not be published. That may not even be your goal. But, if you put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard and string words together, you are a writer. You’re not “aspiring” or a “wannabe.” You are a writer.

NOTE: You may have to practice saying “I am a writer” countless times in front of the mirror, but go ahead. It’s fun and the first person you have to convince is yourself.

Acknowledge your responsibilities.

Do you work outside your home? Do you have a family and home to care for? Do you have volunteer obligations? Adding writing to an already-busy schedule can lead to a great deal of frustration. You may have to back away from optional obligations. And it’s almost guaranteed you will have to make sacrifices (i.e.: getting up an hour earlier; grabbing a few minutes here and there; explaining why writing is important to your non-writing friends and family members; reprioritizing your downtime, etc.).

Know what you want to write.

While the process is similar for most types of writing, it’s hard to bring focus to your work – and your thinking – unless you have at least a rough idea of what you want to write. Although you don’t have to limit yourself, when you’re just beginning it’s good to focus on what you want to write most. This also helps later if you find yourself wandering around in the Vast Expanse of Possibilities. (I find myself there pretty much all the time.)

Examine why you write.

There are tens of thousands of new books written annually. New blogs are popping up on the Internet every minute.

If fame, fortune, and notoriety are your goals (and hey, some writers actually achieve these things), it’s not going to happen overnight – if ever.

If your goal is to leave a legacy for your family, do so. Let them hear your heart. It may very well impact generations to come.

If you simply must put your thoughts and discoveries in written form, I encourage you to find joy in getting your words strung together, no matter who reads them.

Know your intended audience.

I want to write for adults and young children.

After watching Ender’s Game, I realized again YA (teens and young adults) are not my audience. The movie – and I assume the book – are very deep. I don’t think I’m insightful enough to write for this group.

What it all boils down to for me . . . I wrote a poem titled “Writing for One.” Although it would be wonderful to have my blog read by hundreds, even thousands of people, I seek to make it an outpouring of my heart, sharing what’s important to me, and hoping it encourages even just one reader.

Of course, any books I write, I do so for what I hope is a much larger audience. And yet . . . I will probably always keep that one reader in mind.

On a more objective note . . . If you are writing for publication, you need to know your target audience. Who are they? Where are they? What are they reading? In what format do they purchase their books? (An ebook directed at readers in their 60s won’t likely do as well as one targeting those in their teens or 20s.)

Know what others are writing.

Ecclesiastes says there is nothing new under the sun. If you can think of it, someone has probably written about it.

Don’t let this discourage you. Only you can write exactly like you.

So, while you’re reading blogs and novels and nonfiction books that capture your interest, it’s okay to ask how you would convey the same material in your own unique style.

Find your voice.

When I wrote for our local paper, friends from church would say even my advertorial pieces sounded like me. I had no idea I had brought my voice to these short columns.

I loved the book If You Can Talk, You Can Write. (Using that adage, I should be the most prolific writer out there. Maybe I would write more if I stopped talking so much.)

The best way to find your voice is to write as you speak. Of course, depending on what you’re writing and your target audience, you may have to make adjustments, but it’s a great place to start.

Connect with Other Writers

I interact with several other writers, in person and online. As well as teaching me new skills, they energize me and through their voices, I am called back to my commitment to write, write, then write some more.

Read skills development blogs and books.

There are countless resources on the subject. My personal library is extensive and ever-growing. And yet, many of these gems remain unread. Because in the end, it’s easy to get bogged down.

Therefore, my number one piece of advice is – wait for it – WRITE!

Feel free to put all the preceding tips on hold and just GO FOR IT!


23 thoughts on “Welcome to the Writer’s Life

  1. Ramona

    Oh, girl, you spoke to me. Those demons in my head speak loudly sometimes. “Are you sure you should write. What do you have to say anyway?”

    In fact, there’s something that I wrote a little while ago that has been collecting dust. But then, its been in the belly of my computer so maybe not dust but rust. Rumbling in fact to get out. You’ve brought a ray of sunshine in my day, and maybe I’ll tweak it a little bit and send it off to you! (: Thank you for the reminders Stephanie.

    1. Ramona, concerning those demons of fear about your writing… have you heard the Thousand Foot Krutch song with the line “just shut it, if you’re talking to me, I’m sick and tired of all the lies and all you want me to be?” (I think it’s called Bring Me To Life) It’s loud, rocky, and a bit angry, and sometimes I sing along with it against the negative voices in my head…

      You are a writer, and the words you share have value. Polish them, but then don’t let them rust!

  2. Good to meet you on the Writers’ Blog Hop, Steph. Many of your points are similar to mine – in fact most of us have many points in common – which only goes to show that we share the same probs.

  3. Great advice, Stephanie. I especially like the idea of standing in front of a mirror and repeating “I am a writer.” That one is still difficult for me, so maybe I should try the mirror tactic. Thanks!

  4. Stephanie,
    I found myself smiling and nodding as I read your post. Why is it that we fight so much self-doubt? That’s probably the biggest hurdle for most of us. Then there are all the hurdles – time factors, obligations, etc.
    For me, this sentence captured why I write: “If you simply must put your thoughts and discoveries in written form, I encourage you to find joy in getting your words strung together, no matter who reads them.” Publication is encouraging and gratifying, but in the end some of us just have to write.

    1. When I was first presented with the question “Why do you write?” I couldn’t say, “Because I must.” That was until I really thought about it. Whether I’m journaling or blogging or working on a book, it really is part of my DNA.

      Recently I read great wisdom from a fellow author. He was all right with marketing because he believed he was enriching the readers’ lives by getting his book into their hands.

      If we write what we believe with do the same, I can see being okay with promoting it, one of the biggest hurdles for many of us.

      Thanks so much for visiting SNEI and taking the time to comment, Ruth.


  5. Yes, I’ve done the standing in front of the mirror and trying to convince myself I’m a writer thing 🙂 I never did say it out loud until I had a book published, although I truly don’t believe that’s the only criteria. Even now that I do identify myself that way fairly often, I still always say the word fits me like a shoe that’s a size or two off. I appreciate the affirmation, though, and your very thoughtful and insightful advice.

  6. Lots of wisdom here! I most appreciate the encouragement (challenge?) to know ourselves and to know why we write. Not that we have to analyze everything, but having a general idea about these things takes the uncertainty off.

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