Writing Challenge for You!

Posted on September 19, 2011

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That’s right. I want to challenge you to write something. Not just anything, but my challenge to you is to write something for you –not for someone else, some other company or some other purpose, but for YOU.

First Stab at It

Take out a pen and paper — okay, you can use your computer — and brain storm about ideas you might use to write a book, ebook or short story for publishing or that you will later submit to a contest. If nothing specific comes quickly to mind, just jot down the first things you see in your office or surroundings. Visit another scene if you have to — a park or a library. Fill the page with random ideas. Insert a table in MS Word if you need more space and insert columns for your ideas.

Keep in mind the following:

  • What type of books or stories do you most enjoy reading?
  • About which ideas are you most knowledge or desire to be more knowledgeable?
  • Is there a topic on which you’ve desired to write but never got around to it?
  • Well-covered topics are okay to jot down if you think you can write on them from an unusual or not-yet perceived perspective.
  • Don’t limit ideas the first time around — remember, you’re brain-storming!
Second Go-Around

Once you have all your ideas where you can see and assess them:

  • Pick out ten that mean the most to you and make the most sense for your time, interest and resources.
  • List them out on a separate piece of paper or Word document, numbering them 1 to 10 in priority — “1” being the most important to you and “10” as the least important.
  • Rate highly the ones that stir a passion or sense of a cause in you.
  • Consider the ideas for which resources are most readily available.
  • Stay away from obscure topics, unless it is a passion and you are somewhat knowledge on the topic — CAVEAT: If you are passionate about something on which you are not knowledgeable, but have a strong desire to become more of an expert, then go for it!
  • Delete the ones on which you are least knowledgeable and have the least interest on which to write.

Ready, Set, Write!

Now that you have your topic, it’s time to write about it. Most people have a difficult time getting started on a writing project for themselves. An accomplished writing friend of mine gave me some of the best advice for that, and I’ve added my own two cents, as well:

  • The first thing you do every morning is write one page of your manuscript — about 500 words.
  • Set aside at least 15 minutes to accomplish this.
  • If you want to do editing on previous content, wait until you have the additional page written for the morning.
  • Don’t seriously critique your work until you have a heavy first draft written.
  • It’s important to keep your manuscript private until you have a heavily edited first draft — there’s something to be said about all those ideas percolating and simmering until the first edited draft emerges with them on paper.
  • Once you’re comfortable with your edited draft, have a close friend initially critique it — someone you know is tactful and sensitive.
  • At some point, you need a professional eye to critique your work and give you feedback — with all the pro writers that visit this blog, there might be some who would help each other out.

Polished Product

Once your manuscript is as polished as you can make it, it’s time to make it available on your blog/website, or submit it for publishing or to a contest. If writing an e-book for your blog/website, you’ll need a way to collect monies for it. PayPal and a whole slew of other back-office websites offer that.

I know of a reputable publisher who charges no up-front fees for publishing and evenly splits the proceeds with you. My friend uses him every time she publishes a book. Writing contest are ongoing throughout the year, and it’s not hard to find one that’s free. I have several outdated contests noted on my blog, but many of the same companies have current ones gong on.

Book Writing Pointers

A ghostwriting expert recently gave me some pointers in writing a book or short story. Consider these when writing your manuscript:
  • Name the genre — action/adventure, fantasy, comedy, etc. — more extensive list at Writing.com.
  • Know your audience — determine who your audience will be — great info here at Colorado State University.
  • Decide on a timeline — she suggested six months for an average 300-page book.
That’s my challenge to you and I’m doing it, too. Let us know here the topics you’ve chosen to write about. Looking forward to hearing from you!
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