Monday, February 10, 2014

What's Next? 3 Steps Writers Can Take

What’s Next?
3 Steps Writers Can Take

Whether you’re just getting started and you don’t know where to begin or you have lots of words in a document (or many documents) and don’t know what to do with all of them, the next step can look daunting. In fact, you might not even be able to see where the next step is. It feels as if you’ll be stepping off a cliff if you step in any direction, so you hunker down and sink into a quagmire of uncertainty.

Help is on the way!

Ask “Why?” Why do you want to write? Why did you start writing? Set aside the distractions and be really honest about it. Do you want to record something to pass along to others as a legacy? Do you want to record all the advice you seem to get asked over and over again so you’ll have something succinct to share? Do you want books to sell when you speak? Do you want to become famous? Don’t kid yourself with a Sunday school answer. Unless you clarify your goals, you won’t know how to get to them.

Count “1.2.3.” Write one word, whether it’s a theme, memory, name, or phrase. Spend two uninterrupted minutes writing everything you can think of that relates to that word. Don’t worry about complete sentences. Just write whatever comes to mind. You can keep a small notebook with you or use your keyboard or phone, whatever works best for you. Keep it to two minutes. (If you get on a roll and want to continue, at least mark your two-minute mark as a completion to the task. If you begin to consistently run over the allotted time, you’re likely to push pressure on yourself to gradually increase your times.) Repeat the exercise three times in the same day. Setting aside large blocks of time are productive for certain stages of the writing process, but when you’re stuck, getting any amount of words on paper or screen is an improvement. As you create small assignments throughout the day, you’ll notice yourself connecting the dots, noticing details and finding ideas throughout the day. Repeat this routine for no more than a week. It’s an exercise for getting unstuck, not for maintaining a long journey.

Ask for Help. I coach many women through the writing and publishing process. Some simply need someone to ask clarifying questions to determine direction and options. Others need careful proofing and editing. Still others need to hand off their unfiltered words for someone to make sense of it all for prospective readers. It’s such fun to share the journey with others, because there’s shared excitement when the process goes well and shared burden when obstacles get in the way. Writing is a relationship. Eventually, it becomes a relationship between the author and readers, but along the way, it’s relationships among those who shape the words along the way.

Susan Lawrence is a women’s ministry consultant who also partners with women with writing goals. She speaks around the country, has written multiple Bible studies and devotionals, and blogs daily. If you’d like to start a conversation with her about your writing goals or other ministry needs, connect with her on

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