Self-Exploration for Writers: Preparing to Write

Self-Exploration for Writers: Preparing to Write
By Norma J Hill (aka Pen And Paper Mama) ©2020

Welcome to a self-exploration series of exercises for writers: useful whether you are just thinking about writing, are a beginning writer, or are already an experienced writer. Explore what, for you personally, defines a writer, what kind of writer you are, what your writing goals are—and in the process, you will discover yourself as a writer. At the end of each post in the series, there is a link to a downloadable and printable PDF copy on which you can write your responses. Put them in a binder or duotang-type folder. Then, periodically along your writing journey, return to your answers, read what you noted previously, and add new thoughts and experiences. Through this self-exploration process, you’ll end up with a wonderful personal record of your writer’s journey.

1. Muses and Mentors
2. Reading that Inspires Me
3. Listening and Viewing
4. My Life Experiences Related to Writing
5. Inspiration and Dreams
6. Writing Formats and Focuses
7. My Writing Skills
8. My Readers/Audience
9. Preparing to Write

9. Preparing to Write

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How much writing research, study, dreaming and imagining, and other preparations have you done? What more can you do? Investing time in the craft of writing is just as important as investing money in editing, designing, and publishing. Think back, and write down, specifically, everything you have done—or plan to do. We have covered some of these points previously, but now it is time to pull them together as you prepare to write!

Courses, including school, post-secondary, continuing education courses, other training:            
Writing workshops, conferences and retreats I have attended:            
Writers’ groups, feedback groups, and writing partners/friends I spend time with:            
Books I’ve read by famous writers (how-to books, writer memoirs, and their writing which I admire:            
Time I spend writing: How can I schedule writing into my life so that it is an important regular activity?            

Here is something you may not have thought about. Teaching others, whether formally or informally, is a great personal skill builder. As soon as you have learned a writing skill, no matter how basic, share it with someone else. Not only will they learn the skill, but your own ability in the skill will improve. For the following, answer in specific detail what you have done or can do:

Teach lessons or workshops:            
Participate in writing groups (simple advice or encouragement counts!):            
Coach other writers (even simple homework help, beta reading advice, etc.):            
Make helpful comments in social media discussions and in blog comments:              
Create my own writing blog posts and create guest posts for others’ blogs, or help others develop their author blogs/websites:        
Other ways I can teach and encourage other writers:          

Putting your exploration into practice: This is the last exercise in this “Self-Exploration for Writers” series. By now, you will have a strong sense of yourself as a writer. So start writing! And publishing!

Yes, get to work on your “dream project.” But also write and publish small projects. Seeing them in print (on paper or online) will be a great encouragement as you continue to work on that big project. For example:

  • Write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper or a magazine you enjoy reading, or submit a local news article (yes, perhaps for free to start with—get your name noticed).
  • Start a simple website or blog and post at least once a week.
  • Write interesting comments on social media or blog posts others have posted.
  • Explore the internet and find sites where you can share poetry, answer questions, or post your thoughts on topics that interest you.
  • Enter short story or flash fiction contests.
  • Write a “how-to” about some aspect of writing and email it to a friend you know will appreciate learning about it.
  • Write a long, interesting letter (in handwriting, with stationary and a stamp!) and mail it to someone you know will appreciate an old-fashioned friendly letter.
  • Join a local writers’ feedback group and share a piece of writing.

You can, of course, also do journal writing, respond to prompts, and so on, for your own practice—but being published (putting your writing out there for the world to see) is so encouraging and will keep you wanting to write as you share your ideas with readers. It will also improve your writing and self-editing skills, which you can then apply to your dream project.

PDF LINK for this “Preparing to Write” exercise: Download, print, fill in your responses, and place them in your own “Self-Exploration for Writers” binder.

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2 thoughts on “Self-Exploration for Writers: Preparing to Write

  1. Stuart Danker says:

    Contacting publications to write for them—especially for free—is an underrated strategy. Budding writers often avoid doing work for free because they don’t want to be ‘exploited’, but you can’t expect to command market rates when the ones charging those rates are writers that have been in the industry for years, am I right?

    Loved this post. Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

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