We often have questions, but sometimes we are scared to ask. We don’t want the answer to make us feel like we should have known better. We don’t want to feel like we don’t know what we are doing. So we bury our questions, afraid to face them. But the best writers are the ones that are humble enough to recognize they still have much to learn.
Today I’m taking a moment to answer some questions I’ve been asked recently. If others have these questions, maybe you do too. It can be so helpful to discuss our concerns and our questions with other writers. There is nothing wrong with having questions. You don’t have to act like you know how to write a perfect story, and it’s okay to admit that you are still learning your craft.
I know I am.
Answers to Important Writing Questions
Question 1: How can I write controversial topics/personal topics without hurting friends and family?
This is a tricky one for sure. Life gives us wonderful experiences to write about that can be healing for us and others who have gone through something similar. But we don’t want to hurt the ones we love by telling our stories.
One of the best ways to handle the situation is to keep the message true, but change the details. Let’s use addiction as an example. If you want to share a story about overcoming your drug addiction, have the character suffer from a food addiction, an alcohol addiction, or even a shopping addiction. Change the location of the story. Change the gender of the main character. Find as many details as you can to change without losing the heart of the topic you want to explore.
If you want to share your story as a memoir change the names of any real people to protect their identities. And consider adding a foreward explaining why you need to share this story. Be open with your family and let them know you are writing your experiences. Let them ask questions and be respectful of concerns they may have. Where possible try to make compromises.
But if you feel strongly about sharing your story, never let anyone talk you out of it. You can go out of your way and bend over backwards to try and make your book pleasing to friends and family, but someone will always have the choice to feel upset or offended. You cannot control another person’s emotions. Only your own. So, if you really want to share a story that might offend loved ones, you need to prepare yourself for how you can control your own emotions and feelings. If someone chooses to be offended, you can still decide how you want to feel. Maybe this means you’d rather not write your story. That might be an option. But you might proceed and accept the risks. It is up to you.
Question 2: How can I turn my journal into something else?
I LOVE this question because I often think of writing only if I work on my novel. But I am a journal keeper too and that is such an important form of writing! Currently my full journals are packed away in a box, collecting dust. But there are some ways you can turn your journals into a more accessible writing project.
Journals make great scrapbooks. Add a few pictures or use a website like Shutterfly. I’ve made many a scrapbook from them and they always run sales so don’t ever pay full price! Shipping is usually free too and the quality has kept me a repeat customer.
If you have concert tickets or other memorabilia you want to add to your journal, consider taping it in or creating a three-ring binder with your journal pages and other sentimental items in page protectors.
You could also turn your journals into a memoir, or just get them published professionally. Day One is a cool journal app that allows you to turn your journal into a printed book. You can use the app as your journal, but there is also a way to add content you’ve written elsewhere. For Christmas, my husband received a very nice Day One journal of emails he’d sent his family while on a church mission.
Question 3: How can I establish a writing practice?
I could spend hours answering this question! There are two main parts to a writing practice, Brainstorming, writing, and revising is the first part. Knowing your unique style and routine is the second part.
The answer to establishing a solid writing practice is tricky. No one system will work for any writer. My best advice is to be patient with yourself and experiment. Over time and as you try new methods you’ll begin to learn what works for you and what doesn’t.
I recommend starting with your personal style and routine first. If you are trying to learn different outline styles or methods for writing first drafts before you understand what routine works for you or what your writing space should feel like, you won’t get very far. So figure out if you need to write with silence or noise. Decide if you like to write in the morning or in the evening. Figure out if you need to shower or exercise before you write. Is it helpful to write a little prompt or read a book to warm up your brain or can you just jump right into your writing?
Further reading: 31 Challenges to Improve Your Writing
Once you know what helps you be in the proper mindset for writing, then you can experiment with how you brainstorm, write, and revise. Are you a planner or a pantser? Do you need to carry around a writer’s notebook or do you prefer to jot down notes on your phone? Do you write best linearly or jumping from scene to scene? When you revise, is it helpful to read your story from start to finish and make notes to yourself? Do you need to take a week off and come back with fresh eyes and renewed energy?
There is nothing wrong with learning the processes of others and trying them for yourself. That can be the best way to learn what tricks and tips are available and which ones will work for you. But don’t ever feel like you have to write a certain way because another other found success doing so. It’s only successful for you if it helps you progress as a writer.
Download my e-book Write Your Way (for as little as $1, but more if you can) to learn more about establishing a writing practice that works for you!
Other resources for establishing a writing practice:
Question 4: What benefit do writers get from going to a writing conference?
This definitely depends on the conference you choose to attend, so do your research to find one that’s right for you. But many conferences offer manuscript critique, networking, fellow writing friends, and classes on topics you may want to learn about to improve your craft.
If you are a newer writer, focus on conferences that will help you improve your craft and connect with other writers. Any writing conference will be a fantastic place to make new writing friends. Writing can be a lonely journey at times, so it’s awesome to find ways to connect with other writers.
If you have been writing long enough to have a manuscript you want critiqued or you want to network with agents and publishers a conference that includes those benefits can be well worth your time and money.
Conferences on my To-Go-To-Someday List:
- Storymakers Conference
- Muse and the MarketPlace
- WriteOnCon (online and SUPER affordable. For Children’s book, MG, and YA)
Question 5: How can you balance multiple writing projects or find time to write when you have other serious obligations?
Very rarely, if ever, does a writer have the leisure of having all their time to focus on a single writing project. Even if you are a full time writer, it is very possible to have different projects in various stages of completion. And for us hobby writers and part-time writers with school or family or work or whatever else life throws at us (maybe all of these things!) it can be very hard to balance writing life.
Let’s discuss first balancing more than one writing project. I only allow myself to have one project at a time because I have other obligations to balance with writing. But if you find yourself juggling several writing projects it might be helpful to write at different times of the day so you have space between projects. Another option might be to work on different phases at different times. Writing a first draft of one thing? Work on the outline for the next. Revising the first project? Start the rough draft of your other project. This will help you keep projects separate and feel like you aren’t spending all your time revising or outlining.
If you have to balance writing with other responsibilities, find a reasonable goal and work your way up. Maybe you have school and a job or a job and a young family. Maybe you have health issues that take time and energy to manage. Whatever it be, decide how much time you can dedicate to writing and start there. As a first time mother I found myself struggling to write so I would aim for 10-15 minutes a day. But I’m slowly working up to 30 minutes a day.
If writing is truly important to you, you’ll also need to make sacrifices. No, you can’t quit your day job or drop out of school. But maybe you can watch 2 shows instead of 5. Or sacrifice how much time you spend on social media. Take a look at your day and see where you can squeeze in some extra writing time.
Question 6: How can I use LinkedIn for freelance writing?
LinkedIn like any social media, can be a resource for marketing and finding work as a freelance writer. If you are on LinkedIn or planning to join, make sure you have a strong profile. You can also look at profiles of other successful writers in your niche to see how they are using LinkedIn. Once you are all set up, be active! Connect with other writers. You can join groups and participate in posting and commenting on other posts.
Also give yourself time. Be patient. You might not see results right away. Keep trying new things and networking with people until you see success.
It’s also wise not to spread yourself too thin. If you are on every social media platform, you might not have time to excel with any of them. So start with one or two and go from there.
If you have a question you’d like answered in a future blog post, be sure to leave it in the comments! And save this post to Pinterest for future reference.