My approach to writing is the same approach I use for dealing with most of the big things in my life. I take a large and seemingly overwhelming project and break it down into small digestible pieces. I then proceed to tick off each small part until the job is done. I feel this “method-of-attack” has helped me as much as most of the writing classes I’ve taken. Several years ago, I wrote a devotional about this approach called “Turtle Steps.” Christian Online Magazine, Victory News, The Lutheran Digest, and Hearts at Home published it. If you would like to read a copy of this story, please go to:
The reason for the story’s popularity is many people have difficulty dealing with large projects. For whatever reason tasks stack up and spill over into chaos . . . leaving some with a feeling of defeat. My approach in these columns will further explain this small-step approach as well as have you put it into practice. At the conclusion of each post, I will suggest one activity for you to “digest” at that time. Last time you were to pick your writing name and begin linking it to a good, dependable reputation.
This first series of columns will steer you to learning about who you are as a writer, what you will most likely be qualified to write, and decisions you’ll need to make before we look at the writing process itself. You’re most likely following these columns because you want to write something. Let’s say instead that you wanted to cook something. You’d need to address some key issues before you brought out that first ingredient. These are some questions you’d need to consider:
- Why am I going to cook?
- When am I going to cook?
- Where am I going to cook?
- What am I going to cook?
- Who am I going to cook for?
- How am I going to cook?
These may seem like silly questions, yet your mind goes through these steps before you begin any cooking project . . . and you haven’t even selected a recipe and collected your ingredients at this point! You wouldn’t dream of going into the kitchen, randomly setting the oven, selecting any old pan/pot/utensil, or pulling out an assortment of food items onto the counter. Yet this is how many new writers begin the writing process. They sit down at a blank computer screen with just an idea. Ideas are wonderful, but an idea is not the first step. “Know thyself” is the first step.
Go back to the above bullets and replace “cook” with “write.” You now have some of the topics planned for these columns. Between “what” and “who” we’ll look at the differences between nonfiction and fiction writing. At the end of this first set of columns, my goal is for you to have a better understanding of who and what kind of writer you are or will become. As you grow through each column step, integrate the new one into your writing routine.
The second step you must take as a writer is you must write. You can’t merely think, talk, and daydream about writing, you have to write . . . and you should write everyday. Whether you are reading this column as an author with many publications under your belt or as a writer with not one paragraph to your credit, you need to write something everyday. What and how long you write is up to you. I have many writer friends who like to journal. Others blog. I know people who like to dive right in to whatever project they are working on. I currently maintain my church’s Local Outreach Facebook page. I post on it daily. I also enjoy writing a couple of emails and/or short notes to friends via regular mail. I like a this brief warm up before I begin what I refer to as my “real writing.”
It doesn’t matter what you write as long as you write. The reason for a routine is this: whatever you chose to write will require you to be in a place with either pen and paper in hand or in front of your computer. Once you are physically in your writing place, it will be easier to move mentally into your writing place.
Step Two: Write everyday and sign your name to it.