When I started writing, I was just a little girl. I can’t honestly remember the first thing that I wrote, but I knew that I was hooked on this writing thing. Several half-finished stories (and a few finished ones) later, I started to become a really anxious writer though—completely focused on doing all the things that would potentially lead me to a book deal.
But that’s not what this post is about, friends. Because you can find tons of resources about doing all the things that will potentially lead you to a book deal. But if you want to have a solid foundation for your writing as you start on this exciting journey, I have a few other suggestions for you.
1. Don’t be anxious.
It’s really easy to be anxious, especially as writers who want the world to read our writing and wonder what might happen if the world doesn’t have the chance to do that. But truth be told, we often get more focused on winning the comparison game than on actually writing well. Think about what kinds of questions you ask yourself about your writing. Are the questions about just you and your writing? Or are the questions based on other people and how you compare to them?
Examine your priorities and see where your heart for writing lies. Do you aim to be a better writer? Or do you simply aim to be a better writer than him or her? We’re all on a different journey—especially in the realm of writing—so the last thing that a writer should be is anxious. This is a lesson that I’m personally struggling to learn, but it’s such an integral lesson for us.
2. Personal experience is your greatest writing tool.
No one else has had the exact same life experiences that you’ve had. Even people who have shared in your life experiences don’t view them the exact same way that you do. That’s precisely why you need to use your unique experiences and unique perspective in your writing!
Relatable, transparent stories can really encourage readers and remind them that they’re not alone. I realize that there’s not as much room for sharing relatable, transparent stories in fiction writing, but try incorporating those from a third-person perspective. Be willing to open up in your writing, even if you’re using fictional characters to live out your life experiences.
3. Use books, movies, and songs as inspiration.
I’ve started doing this annoying thing in movies called crying. I can’t seem to get through a movie without at least wanting to cry. When I watched Lyle, Lyle Crocodile (which is based on a children’s book, ahem), I couldn’t help but tear up when Lyle was taken from his family and transported to the zoo.
But you know what makes for really good writing? Tears. Sadness. Emotion. And we often experience our strongest emotions as we consume other people’s content. Whether you’re reading a novel, watching a movie, or listening to music, you’re likely to feel emotional in the midst of it. Sadness, happiness, anger, surprise, doubt, and a host of other emotions might overwhelm you as you read books, watch movies, and listen to music. Those emotions can inspire great writing, don’t be afraid to feel when you read books, watch movies, or listen to music.
More than any of the tips that I mentioned above, I want you to know this truth: stress is not going to fuel your growth as a writer; faith is. I’ve spent many years stressing about writing, and it’s honestly quite draining. But if we shift our focus from “Oh my goodness, will I ever be a successful writer?” to “Am I trusting God to provide the right opportunities, support, and inspiration along my writing journey and doing my best to grow in this area?”, then we’re going to be just fine.
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7 NASB1995)