I WANT TO WRITE BECAUSE…
Make no little plans, they have no magic to stir men’s blood.
Daniel Hudson Burnham
Years ago, while frantically searching for my niche as a writer, I stumbled across a how to book on marketing for writers which included an index of activities. These exercises were designed to help novices, aspiring inditers, and scribes struggling with self-confidence issues get organized. I plunged into the myriad of possibilities it offered and came up with ten tips for chroniclers.
Item number two on this list says: Develop a written plan of action for transforming the vision in your head and heart into reality. Those dreams have a far better chance of coming true when committed to paper. As long as they remain ephemeral, there’s no opportunity to view them objectively, make assessments, adjustments, or measure progress. Before composing a blueprint, explore the reasons why you want to be a scribe, belletrist, inditer, journalist, chronicler, or raconteur, and conduct this inquiry in writing. Drafting a plan is both empowering and liberating. It’s the chance to ask – and answer – pivotal questions:
- Why do you want to be a writer?
- What kind of writer do you want to be?
- How much reading do you do, how often, and what kind of material do you read?
- How often do you write?
- Do you want to write and get paid?
- How do you define your audience? How do you intend to reach them?
- Do you want to be a published writer?
- What do you most enjoy about writing?
- What aspect of writing do you find most stressful?
- Do you like, love, or live to write?
WHY do YOU WANT to be a WRITER?
We’ve gotten past the introduction, now, let’s get personal. Describe the feelings you experience when you think about being a scribe. What is, or has been, your response? Anything? Nothing? Discuss the allure of writing for you. Is it:
- An avocation?
- A dream?
- A vocation?
- A desire?
- An avid pursuit?
- Something other than the foregoing possibilities?
What types of writing are most appealing to you?
- Technical. This field includes, but isn’t limited to: scientific, scholarly, peer-reviewed material, DIY, user manuals, specifications, and self-help media.
- Freelance. This field includes, but isn’t limited to: articles for publication in magazines, newspapers, both print and electronic, production of documents such as reports, correspondence, resumes, obituaries, abstracts, and other sub-specialties.
- Copywriting. This area of expertise is all about development of advertising or publicity content.
- Blogging. This kind of writing has no specific parameters and is based on fulfilling the blogger’s goals and objectives.
- Literary. This field includes authoring fiction and nonfiction writing across the spectrum of genres: biographies, histories, religion, philosophy, politics, romance, urban fantasy, mysteries, children’s books, young adult content, poetry…just to name a few.
- Something not mentioned?
Choose three categories of writing you’d like to look into and do your research. Don’t limit yourself to Internet searches. Visit your local library, browse the card catalog, and check out materials to read. Seek out practitioners in the areas you’ve selected. Engage them in substantive conversations about the writing they do. Before you meet, write out the questions you want answered. If literary writing is where you want to make your mark, which genres do you like? Why? Do you want to compose poetry, be an essayist, blogger, write short stories, novellas, novels, or does nonfiction have more appeal? Take another look at your choices: which ones speak the loudest? Do you feel a calling?
Effective, entertaining, and informative scribes also read – a variety of media. How much reading do you do? How often? And what kinds of material do you ingest? Reading is fundamental to writing. Experienced inditers nurture their muses and indulge their fancies. Reading across a spectrum of media is crucial. Do you understand where creativity emanates from? The stuff of originality doesn’t pop up at a moment’s notice. Rather, it evolves through an intangible process which begins in the head and heart. This gift must be fed, stoked, stroked, respected, honored, and articulated.
HOW OFTEN DO YOU WRITE?
- Daily: if so, for how long? Describe your routine.
- Weekly? Describe your routine.
- When you’re in the mood? Explain how being in the mood works.
If you want to be a writer, but you don’t write, ask yourself how you’ll realize this desire.
WHO COMPRISES YOUR READING AUDIENCE?
Who are you writing for? Define and describe the audience you have targeted. What is unique about them – particularly as it pertains to the kind of writing you intend to do? Identify the demographics of your chosen population. What do you have in common? Why have you chosen this group? How do you intend to connect with them?
DO YOU WANT to be PUBLISHED?
On its face the foregoing may seem like a stupid question but it isn’t. Not everyone who wants to write cares to share. If you do – want to be published – what are your thoughts on the subject? Have you considered the format(s) in which you want your work to appear? Do you:
- Want, or need, a literary agent? Why? Do you know what purpose a literary agent serves?
- Want a publishing contract, with an advance? Do you know how to go about obtaining one?
- Want to self-publish? If you do, how will you sell your merchandise? Would you prefer a distribution outlet such as Amazon?
How familiar are you with social media? Do you understand what it is and how it affects writing and publishing? Do you have an opinion about it? Do you see social media as a component of expository writing? Are you social media savvy? Do you think it’s a valuable resource for promoting yourself and your work? If you’re familiar with it, which platforms do you use? List them and discuss the efficacy of each one as it relates to your wants, needs, and plans. Which medium do you find most user-friendly? Which one is least efficient? Why?
THE ART of WRITING
What do you most enjoy about writing? What aspect of it do you find most stressful? All kidding aside, if you’re serious about being a belletrist, raconteur, chronicler, or scribe, it’s important to identify what you really like and dislike about the art of writing. Do you know what the writer’s tools are? Name them. Which ones do you use and how frequently? Which is more important:
- Proofreading and editing; or,
- Editing and proofreading.
- What is the difference, or is there one?
Is writer’s block real? What is scaffolding? Should you write your material out in long hand first, or just sit down at your computer and start typing? Should you edit as you write? What happens if you don’t like what you’ve written?
I WANT TO GET PAID TO WRITE
And how do you go about making this happen? Have you researched setting up a business? What kinds of services do you want to provide? Do you want to be an author, hawking your wares? What do you want to do?
The foregoing questions are queries anyone who truly aspires to be an inditer ought to contemplate, meditate on, and approach thoughtfully. Analyze, assess, mull over, and reflect on your professed desire. Immersing yourself in a process which facilitates an honest evaluation of something you think you’d like to do is the gift you give yourself. It helps to be in touch with your feelings. Be open and honest about your fears, doubts, or hesitation.
Don’t attempt to tackle the answers in one sitting, but do grant yourself the gift of ownership. Begin your foray in a quiet place where you can hear yourself think and receive. Bring a tablet, either an 8½” x 11” or a legal size, and an assortment of pens. Don’t let something as insignificant as a writing instrument that won’t work interfere. Open the door to your heart with the following admission:
I want to write because…
Let your thoughts flow and continue to write until you know, intuitively, you’re finished. Set the pad aside. Allow your musings to marinate for twenty-four to forty-eight hours. Take what you’ve committed to paper, upload it to the word processing software on the electronic device of your choice, and print it out. Your review is based on what you’ve written and how it looks in black and white, or color – whatever floats your boat!!!
Spend the next several days reading and absorbing. Be mindful of items which strike nerves, either positively or negatively. Ask yourself ‘what’s the message here?’ This exercise, when carried out with integrity can guide your next steps, if your answers add up to an affirmation of your expectations. Keep the results and revisit them periodically.
If writing is something you do want to pursue but…then you’ve got more soul searching to do. The answers you seek lie within – not outside of you. Committing your dreams and desires to paper offers a means of devising a plan of action which can be:
It’s your call – if you truly want to create a body of work which will be read, analyzed, dissected, discussed, hated, reviled, loved, and appreciated, write those plans down – and do something with them!