A few days ago, a gal came to me for help. She wanted to begin writing but didn’t know where to start. She asked if I could/would help her.
This case isn’t unusual. Few beginning writers know where to start on the road toward publication. I did what I always do in this situation—I asked several questions to define the boundaries this would-be writer wanted to work with at the beginning.
Questions for the beginning writer:
- What kind of writing do you want to pursue? Fiction, non-fiction (including memoir), educational, inspirational, novel-length, poetry, etc.
- What’s the purpose behind your writing desire? Do you want to make extra money? Is this more a hobby for personal satisfaction where monetary gain is secondary to the work itself? Again, this makes a big difference in effort and in direction.
- What is the final goal of your desire to write? That’s going to be the hardest to pinpoint.
- All of these questions bring us back to–what type of writing do you want to do? Children’s’, adult, romance, Christian, science fiction, fantasy, etc. These are a major consideration.
Answering these four questions is paramount to beginning a serious stab at putting words to paper for others to read. For this particular newbie, fear didn’t come into it. She’d written pieces before for community newsletters and the like. She wanted more in-depth structure to the path than she had already experienced.
Left with this homework, she was satisfied to stand at the trailhead to her future. She could give me one answer immediately. She wanted to write memoir/inspirational pieces—not just to tell her story, but also with the potential to help others going through similar life lessons.
Following the trail requires direction and signposts. Armed with the desired genre, I could point her toward additional research homework. I advised her to look through the following resources for how they could help her hone both her desires and her craft.
- National Assoc. of Memoir Writers: http://namw.org/ Specialty organization for education/networking/publication
- The Writer Magazine: http://www.writermag.com/. Marketing lists of publications, contests & Competitions, plus educational material
- Writer’s Digest Magazine: http://www.writersdigest.com/. Marketing/education/contests
- Blog Her: http://www.blogher.com/. Networking with other women writers of all stripes, forums, opportunities
- She Writes: http://www.shewrites.com/. Networking with other women writers, forums, publishing, etc.
Once this newbie spends time sorting through what’s on offer at these sites, she’ll have a better handle on what’s possible for her immediately and what’s still on the needs list.
Each genre has its own needs, craft secrets, and markets. Memoir and inspirational writing is no different. This groundwork is necessary for anyone who wants to pursue the trail to publication.
As we go through this process, I’ll post here on the ground covered and the signposts along the way. Others can use this same information for their own journey. I hope it can point the way for any who are confused or unsure of their direction.
And on that note, I’m going to leave you with a poem poster I did today for a poetry challenge from one of my groups on Facebook. Enjoy.