Every once in a while, someone will ask how they can get started as a writer. It always reminds me of the title of Jeff Goins’s book I read several years ago—You Are a Writer (So Start Acting Like One). Before you have 100 followers on your blog, before you have been published by someone else, before you get the book deal, you are a writer. Claiming that title for yourself is the first step.
Beyond that, I have learned some things that might be helpful. Here’s a handful I hope you find encouraging.
Write your passion
Write about that which you love and know well. It is tempting to try to imitate your favorite author, but your story, your passion, your interests are unique. The world already has the stories of the authors you admire. We need your perspective and thoughts.
Tell your readers what is stirring your spirit, touching your heart, igniting your passion. Share your expertise and experience. Don’t worry about whether your words will find an audience just yet. Just write.
Edit, re-edit, and edit again
Somewhere along the way, I read someone who advised writing articles instead of blogs. Receiving that advice, I began to only post pieces I thought were publishable, things I would submit to an editor. Practically, that means spending more time editing.
For writers, editing is like sanding for a woodworker. While it is slow and tedious work, it yields a much better finished product.
Take the time to refine your story/article/blog before posting/emailing/submitting it. Check spelling and grammar. Make sure the thoughts flow. Take out extraneous stories and tangential thoughts (save them for another time). Fact check yourself—Is that story from that sermon actually true?
Put it out there.
I remember being terrified the first time I submitted my work for publication. Honestly, I still get butterflies before sending my stories to my supervisor at UMC.org or pressing the publish button on my blog. Despite that anxiety, I encourage you to submit your work.
What helped me click on that terrifying button the first time is a quote that still encourages me today, “Rejection is one person’s opinion.” You may have caught the editor on a bad day, and that cranky comment might come from someone working through something painful.
Rejection happens. Keep writing. Keep submitting. Keep learning, practicing, and editing.
One more thing
If you are a spiritual writer, you should attend the Writing for Your Life Spiritual Writers’ Conference in Nashville, February 6-7. The featured speakers are authors Brian McLaren and Carol Howard Merritt, and I have the honor of leading a breakout seminar called “Make Them Look: How to get your work in front of more eyes.” In my seminar I’ll share some of what we have learned at United Methodist Communications about building an audience.
I attended last year, and it was a great experience with tremendous access to writers, editors, and publishers. Join us.