I’ve recently been approached by a few people to share my thoughts on how to get started as a writer – whether it be a blog, poetry, or writing as a guest columnist of sorts. I wasn’t sure I was the right person to ask, but then remembered I’ve been writing as a hobby just for fun, on behalf of church’s, and now I do some writing for my company as well. So – why the heck not get some writing tips from yours truly?
There are basically two keys to writing – reading lots and lots of books and then, writing. “Just do it.” For real though. (Might as well stop reading now and start journaling.)
Since high school I’ve probably read a couple hundred books “just for fun” – my friends called me a nerd and made fun of me as I walked across campus with a book open. I learned in college that it wasn’t helping me meet the ladies so I finally toned it down a smidgen. But you could still easily find me in Starbucks, reading the latest James Patterson novel or Francis Chan’s latest Biblical wisdom.
It’s my obsession with a good story. I’ve always envied my friend Jake’s charisma and ability to captivate a room of 20 or so people with a well-told childhood tale. He tells just the right amount of detail to place you in the same room as him, drops the punch-line at the right moment so that it makes you wonder if you’re going to end up peeing your pants, and oops – you already have! (Kidding…maybe…but seriously – you’ll never belly-laugh harder than when he starts telling stories!)
A good writer’s main aim is to tell a good story – to bring others into the story with them. You want them to feel your pain, to rise with you and overcome the dark times in life, to fight the treacherous dragon and rescue the beautiful princess, to confront the terrifying realities of prejudice, obscured rhetoric, and many other big-word, hot-button topics.
I write very conversationally. My readers should feel like they’re sitting in the room with me, or like I’ve granted them access inside my soul. I want the experience to be intimate and personal and I want them to walk away changed and confronted. I don’t want them to ever leave feeling the same. As a natural leader and former student of persuasion and rhetoric, I want to pull and shift the audience in a particular direction – while also leaving room for their own beliefs to be added to the conversation. Because after all, you’re not going to change the world with more confrontation, but we could all understand each other a little better if we spent more time in conversation. And part of conversation, is having your own ideas… (Turn the TV off and do some thinking for crying out loud!)
Honestly, as an up-and-coming author, the hardest thing about writing is just getting started. You can say that you want to write a book or start a blog or express yourself more artistically until you’re blue in the face, but until you actually sit down and do the hard work of beginning, you’ll never make an impact.
As a perfectionist, it’s my fear of failure that’ll hold me back. It’s what has kept me from pursuing my dream of writing a book for so long. If I write it and no one publishes it, then what will have been the point? And I’ve decided that if I can’t do it for myself, then I shouldn’t do it for anyone. So I’m doing it for myself, because it is what I want to do. It’s what I NEED to do. It’s what I’ve needed to do since I was 16 years old.
You have to get beyond the desire to please others. You have to NEED to write. You have to have decided that your voice is worth hearing. And then you have to share it and hold nothing back. No one wants halfheartedness, just like no one wants someone who is “kind of a friend.” You’re either a writer or you’re not. The only person that gets to decide that is yourself. Don’t let “the world” and “publishers” and “circumstances” define you.
Honestly, you just have to get started. You just have to do it. Stop worrying so much about layouts and fonts and topics and just find creative ways to share what’s on your heart. Because in the end, that’s what matters the most.