Before we launch into the next set of columns, I feel a personal assessment of where you are as a writer would be beneficial. The first five series are complete, and there is no need for another ten columns about educating or getting acquainted with your Writer Within. The prior 50 columns have addressed the creative soul inside you who wishes to be a writer. Thus far, we have not discussed the mechanics of writing. Let’s recap the first five series before examining that process. After each summary, I will give my personal assessment.
“What Kind of Writer Are You?” explored your reasons for wanting to pursue a writing life and your expectations for that goal. We examined your personality by looking at the who, what, why, when, where, and how that would direct your road to that destination.
My name is Janice Alonso and I have been published over 300 times in the
inspirational, mystery, instructional, and literary genres. I write flash fiction,
short shorts, novels, columns, and essays. My work has appeared in magazines, anthologies, newsletters, websites, e-zines, and eBooks. I also teach writing workshops, do author visits, and I have received several awards. I write because I enjoy the creative process, want to share what I have learned with others, and like being read. I prefer writing in the morning at my computer in my home office.
“Embolden Your Writer with a Plan” gave you a four-pronged course of action to set up your writing schedule. These parts are divided into idea-gathering, researching, writing/editing, and organizing segments. By weekly allotting designated times to each of these areas, I am providing my Writer Within with a map that charts the way to continuous writing and publication. This plan helps to fend off the common complaint, “I have writer’s block.”
This plan is “how” I write. In the mornings, I use the first thirty to forty minutes to read a devotion, pray, and sit quietly. Afterwards, I go for a walk and let my mind move freely from thought to thought. The combination of these two daily practices allows me to come up with fresh ideas and to flesh out possible new projects. My mind works through snags I may be having with individual stories. By the time I reach my desk, I have a firm grasp on where my creating time will take me. I use afternoons and evenings for research and organizing.
“Give Your Writer Resources” talked about the resources necessary to fill a tool box for building your writing career. We listed books, professional organizations, and community groups that are available and you should investigate.
My shelves are lined with mostly reference materials that relate to the specific genres I write. I have books by mystery and positive attitude authors I wish to emulate. I’ve bookmarked websites and “like” Facebook pages of groups that relate to my writing interests. I belong to several professional organizations such as Mystery Writers of America and SCWBI.
“A Solid Foundation Is Essential” examined in detail the classic outline we learned in school. That outline is the essay foundation.
For most of my devotionals and instructional pieces, I use the essay format to provide specific information critical to the article before I write the first draft.
“Fiction Foundations” explained the universally accepted foundation for writing stories and novels.
The fictional foundation is so second nature that I don’t use a pre-written, detailed outline. Instead, I prefer to use the first draft as the opportunity get to know my characters and let them become familiar with their environment and each other. I believe this free range approach produces more natural and believable stories.
But there’s much more to writing than resources, foundations, plans, and elements. Russell Baker says it best in his introduction to his 1982 Pulitzer Prize Winner Growing Up:
Writing a book is quite different from telling amusing anecdotes over the second bottle of Bordeaux, as I discovered during long months of desperately trying to forge all those amusing anecdotes into a coherent story with a beginning, a middle, and an end. Eventually 300 pages of manuscript did emerge. It had the weight of a book, but after delivery to Tom [his editor] and my agent neither had the heart to phone and speak the truth, to wit, that my book was just an incoherent assortment of anecdotes with no beginning, middle, or end, and certainly no story. In short, not a book.
We’ve skimmed the surface of what constitutes a viable beginning, middle, and ending, but what are those forces that attract readers and wow audiences? We will now focus on the ingredients that will make your writing burst from the page and take on a life of its own.
Before you begin: Write a personal assessment for your Writer Within.