These columns began last September and if you have followed the suggested steps, you should have a better understanding of your writer within. If you’ve written one page per day since then, you have about 180 pages toward your book or ten 18-page short stories. These pages may only be a first draft, but they represent what your writer can do. You have gotten this far because you:
- tackled a large project through small steps (“What Is My Approach?” article 2)
- discovered your reasons for wanting to be an author (“Why Do You Want to Write?” article 3)
- showed up to write (“When Will You Write?” article 4 and “Where Will You Write?” article 5)
- settled on a subject (“What Is Nonfiction?” article 6 and “What Is Fiction?” article 7)
- had a visual image of who your readers are (“Who Is Your Audience?” article 8)
- learned which roads get you from start to finish ("How Will You Write?” article 9)
Using “Turtle Steps” as an example, I will take you from idea to finished piece to illustrate my writing approach.
Early one morning while sitting in my office drinking coffee, I noticed a turtle crossing from a thicket of hedges toward my butterfly garden. On a note card I wrote the words “turtle” and “butterfly garden.” The following morning, I pulled out the note card and let my mind roam. I added, “The Tortoise and the Hare,” grandmother telling me story, fast/slow . . . any idea sparked from “turtle” and “butterfly garden.” These steps occurred during my brainstorming time.
During the week, I looked up “The Tortoise and the Hare” and reread it. I wrote down the moral of the story and began the bare-bones outline:
III – Slow and steady wins the race
II – Personal and professional examples
I – Personal experience of turtle and butterfly garden
Before I fleshed out the outline, I thought about the story’s form and audience. I chose to write a devotional for adults. I selected several possible Bible verses to support the message, “Slow and steady wins the race.” I then filled in the outline with details to suit my intended audience. These steps occurred during my researching time.
When the time came for me to write, I opened a word document and wrote my name in the top left hand corner (Step 1). I moved down the page and gave my piece a title. The title doesn’t have to remain the title, but give your idea the respect it deserves by naming it. I wrote the first draft from first to last sentence according to my outline. After the first draft was complete, I rewrote, edited, and re-edited the piece. I let the piece rest. Then I rewrote, edited, and re-edited the piece several more times. These steps occurred during writing time.
While the piece was resting, I looked up possible markets for the submission process. I knew the form, length, audience, and subject matter of the piece, so selecting appropriate markets was a matter of finding matches. I narrowed my list to ten periodicals. These steps occurred during researching time.
I wrote a cover letter answering the two questions, “Who Am I and Why Am I Qualified to Write this Devotional?” I submitted the piece exactly the way each market requested. I made a copy of each letter for my records. I did this during writing time.
I created a folder for “Turtle Steps.” In the folder I placed a page with all the places and dates I submitted the story. By each entry I left a space to make notes when the piece was returned or if an editor took time to give comments. I acknowledged any comments via an email to the editors. These steps occurred during organizing time.
Articles two through nine have prepared you to write. You now have something to say and a designated time and place to say it. I chose the title “What Kind of Writer Are You?” for this first series because I believe a writer must first know himself/herself and his/her work habits before the “partnership” begins. Would you go into business without knowing the person with whom you’ll be dealing? Then why would you set out on a huge project such as writing a book without knowing how the “writer within” you works? I’ve enjoyed writing these columns and hope something I’ve shared has benefited you and your writer within.
Remember – write every day and sign your name to it.