Sunday, April 17, 2011
Stories, Articles, and Blogs...Oh, My!
Over the last couple of weeks, we’ve talked about steps to take toward making writing a career instead of just a hobby—to include making a schedule that includes writing time and a special space to write. Now it’s that time. We push everything else aside to sit down with a blank computer screen for a couple of hours. What do we do next?
For many, they just want to sit down and start on that novel they’ve had simmering inside for weeks, months, even years. That’s great! It’s exciting to have that motivation and desire to get it all out on paper. If you can think of nothing else you would like to do—go for it. Just start writing. That’s how I wrote my first couple of novels (the ones that are in the back of the closet and will probably never again see the light of day).
Take a minute, though, to consider a few other options. In Jerry B. Jenkins’ book on writing, Writing for the Soul, he ventures to suggest that we should start small—articles and short stories. He began his writing career with articles for his local newspaper on area sports; it was many years before he joined with Tim LaHaye to write The Left Behind series.
For the most part, I agree with Mr. Jenkins. When we start writing, we should use articles and short stories to teach us how to make our writing tighter and to use stronger verbs/nouns to make the prose pop. This doesn’t mean we can’t work on our novels—after all, sometimes those characters won’t let us rest!
This is where a good writing schedule comes in. It’s nice to set aside at least one writing day a week just to focus on articles and/or short stories. The continued practice will only help you in your overall writing style, but there’s an added bonus.
Articles and short stories are a way to get your name and style out there before you reach the end of your novel. If you’re looking to earn a little extra cash, selling articles to magazines and online content offer a quicker turnaround (and slightly better odds) than waiting on your novels.
Don’t think you have what it takes to write articles? Take a moment to take stock of your interests and expertise. For me, I can say that I am a follower of Christ, a wife, a mom, a writer. I am into homeschooling, learning how to cook and organize my home, reading, accomplishing goals…the list goes on.
There are many different types of articles, from how-tos to devotionals to features. While you may find it harder to break into features, starting out with how-tos and short devos will open many doors. Study up on the different types of articles and match them up with your interests/expertise. Then start looking for places that want what you have to offer. Check out the market guides, local/regional options, do a little research online. You’ll find there is a lot out there for you to get some experience under your belt.
I cannot express enough the benefits of incorporating articles and short stories into your writing routine. Even poetry and blogs can help. Poetry allows you to use more colorful, flowery language, often with even tighter word restrictions. You also learn more about rhythm and flow, meter and cadence. Blogs…well, we’ll talk more about that on Wednesday!
Join me tomorrow as I reflect on my journey with Christ as we venture into the last week before Easter. Wednesday, we’ll talk about blogs and websites…do writers need them and when. Thursday, Faith Without Limits will welcome my CP and good friend, Airdale, as she talks about moral dilemmas in our writing. Earth Day is Friday and we’ll see what I can whip up for then! Something about Easter and Earth Day…there has to be a way to connect the two. Welcome to another week at Faith Without Limits!