By Steph Beth Nickel
Some of the best writing advice I ever received …
Even before you know exactly what you want to write, you have to get the words on paper. Just write!
I have four manuscripts partially completed: a devotional on the gospel of John, a contemporary women’s fiction novel, a YA fantasy, and a memoir I’m coauthoring.
While niching down has its place and is well worth the effort, waiting until you’re 100 percent sure what you want to create for the long haul pretty much guarantees you won’t hit PUBLISH (or pitch an agent) on any project.
So, consider this your invitation to write … just write!
Here are some suggestions to inspire you:
- Pick up that book of writing prompts that has been sitting on your shelf gathering dust. Open it to any random page … and write.
- Scan photos online until you find one that inspires you and go for it.
- Make a list of all the topics you’d like to write about. Obscure? No problem. No market? It doesn’t matter at this point. Plus, you might be surprised. Don’t think you have what it takes? Tell your inner critic you’ll get back to her later—much later!
- Create a list of your favourite genres, authors, writing styles …
- Choose a topic and a genre … and write! (You don’t have to know everything about the genre. There’ll be plenty of time to polish in subsequent drafts.) Or you may want to …
- Create an outline for your project before you begin to write. (Discovery writers [aka pantsers] prefer a simple scaffolding at most. Plotters will want to include more details but can get caught up in “perfecting” the outline before they even start. At some point, both types of individuals must take a deep breath and begin to write.)
- Allow the story or nonfiction project to flow—even if it does so in spurts and starts. Bullet points. Notes to self (i.e.: insert character name here). Skipping around in the story. (I’ve written an epilogue for a novel that isn’t finished yet.) If you run into a roadblock, these and other methods are 100 percent acceptable “fillers.”
- Try your hand at something you’ve never written before. I wrote 40K of a YA fantasy novel back in November for NaNoWriMo. I wondered if I had what it took to write fantasy, but I figured, Why not? And I’m having lots of fun.
- If you’re writing to deadline for a traditional publisher with specific guidelines, you have a responsibility to fulfill your obligations, but that doesn’t mean you can’t explore other genres, other writing forms, that idea you’ve long buried at the back of your mind (or in the bottom of your drawer) …
- Writing can be both a job and a creative outlet, but don’t let the business side of things squelch the joy you feel from simply putting pen to paper or fingers to keyboard. JUST WRITE!
Steph Beth Nickel is an editor, writer, and birth doula. If you would like more information about her services, you can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org;
join her Facebook group:
or visit her website-in-progress: nurtureandinspire.com.