Guest post by April Moore, writer & director of Northern Colorado Writers.
A writer’s job is to elicit a number of responses from readers whether it’s laughing or crying or gasping in fear (sometimes, all on the same page!), but writers also aim to inspire readers in various ways, oftentimes, turning their audience into writers themselves.
Do you have a desire or passion to write, but aren’t sure where to start?
I’d like to offer a few suggestions:
Read, Read, Read.
Stephen King said, “If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.” My guess, is you already have this step nailed. Ask most writers and they’ll tell you they started out as avid readers and have continued this practice throughout their careers. When we understand what it is about a book that resonates with us, we learn how to incorporate those techniques in our own writing. The same is true for books we didn’t necessarily enjoy; we discover what to avoid doing. Read books by authors you admire and genres you most want to write, but keep in mind that authors’ voices, including your own, are unique, so develop your own style that only you can bring to the page.
Books such as Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott, Story Genius by Lisa Cron, and a number of other craft books are also widely available at the library and offer inspiring advice on how to grow and develop your skills and personal style. Perhaps you already have a short story or essay or even a full manuscript and want to publish it. The library houses references such as the latest edition of The Writer’s Market, listing submission details for agents, editors, magazines, book publishers, and more.
Set a Writing Schedule.
Pick a time, whether it’s per day or per week, and make it your special, uninterrupted writing time. Periodically meeting up with a writing buddy is a great idea. It will help establish a routine and force you be accountable to them and your writing. Hint: the quiet library is the perfect place!
I also recommend keeping a journal or digital recorder on hand wherever you go in order to jot down ideas and inspiration when they strike. Pay attention to your surroundings; your everyday routine (walking the dog, standing in line at the grocery store, waiting in the school pick-up lane) can offer surprising inspiration, and you’ll be glad you have a trusty notebook by your side to write it down.
Find Your Tribe.
Writing can be a solitary endeavor, but at times, crave interaction and camaraderie with whom we share this passion. Seek out fellow writers in your own circle, but don’t be afraid to branch out. Attend a local writing meet up, seek organizations like Northern Colorado Writers, or ask your local librarian about any groups they know of. Consider starting or joining an existing critique group to share your work with others who will give you honest, constructive feedback. Northern Colorado boasts a thriving writing community, made up of supportive and encouraging novelists, poets, bloggers, freelancers, and more, who are eager to connect with you!
Sharpen Your Skills.
Becoming a skilled writer takes work. As with any craft, it requires commitment and dedication to continually hone one’s writing chops. Read books on the craft of writing, attend workshops at the library, or take classes at the local community college or from writing organizations in the area. Writing conferences are one of the best places to immerse yourself in the world of writing and publishing. These events give you the opportunity to take several workshops, connect with fellow writers, and get your work in front of literary agents and editors.
I encourage you to check out the 12th Annual Northern Colorado Writers Conference this May 5-6 at the Fort Collins Marriott. There are a number of workshop offerings in varying genres, chances to have your worked critiqued by an agent or editor, and opportunities to hear inspiring keynotes. Plus, you’re more likely than not, to find the writing tribe you’ve been looking for—people with similar goals who want to help you succeed as a writer.
No matter where you are in your writing journey, there are many resources available in Northern Colorado that are encouraging and supportive. My hope is that you find ways to honor and nourish your passion for writing because you are the only one who can tell your story—and there are readers who are want to hear it.
April Moore is director of Northern Colorado Writers and is a freelance illustrator, editor, and the author of two books. She is passionate about helping writers of all genres and skill levels develop a successful writing life. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.