Writing came to me by accident. After graduating college as an older adult, I was busy applying and interviewing for positions in the public relations field, eager to put my degree to work and ready to get a return on my financial and personal investment in my education.
It was during that time, that my husband asked me if I would write his grandparents’ story. He explained that it was a cute love story, but he left out some of the essential details. Their story was also one of ethnic cleansing, immigration, determination and courage to start a brand-new life in the United States of America. It took me longer than I ever expected and more than one attempt until it was done.
I learned a lot about myself writing my first book. What kind of writer I am—an outliner, or plotter. What time of the day I write best in—mornings and early evenings. Where my inspiration comes from—nature, the great outdoors. The type of support I need—my critique group and finally, how many hats I’d actually wear during the process—from creative writer to savvy marketer to professional speaker.
My first book was published five years ago and remains a best seller in a local store in my hometown. Since then, I’ve written two more books. My first two books were independently published. My last book was picked up by a small Christian publishing press. Presently, I’m working on outlining book number four with plans for a novella on the back burner. I’ve learned plenty of hard lessons along the way that I’d like to share with you in hopes that my learning curve will steer you in the right direction and encourage you forward in your own work-in-progress. Here are a few quick tips:
Know where your inspiration comes from. For me, it’s simple . . . nature. For example walking my dog in the crisp Wisconsin winters, kayaking across the lake in summer, pulling weeds and making order in spring or raking leaves in the fall. It doesn’t have to be an exotic retreat, it may be right in your own backyard.
Understand your writing style. Do you like to write scenes out on index cards or on a large sheet of paper and then tape it on a wall? If so, you’re a plotter like me. Or, do you prefer to write whatever moves you on a particular day, jumping scenes, or writing projects for that matter. If so, you’re in the panster camp. Once you understand your style, you can set your goals for the week, month, and year.
Find a critique group or writing class to join and bond with other writers. Writers live very solitary lives and reaching out to others may be uncomfortable at first, but I encourage you to take that first step. There are so many opportunities available online through professional organizations linked to your specific genre. Another suggestion would be to contact your local library or bookstores and inquire about writing groups that may meet. Having a regular group of dedicated writers to critique your work and support you along the way is invaluable and will keep you motivated.
Create a tracking system. Knowledge is a powerful weapon. Understanding what made high volume days productive and other days not will help you to formulate a commitment that works for you, eventually meeting your goal.
These are the lessons I learned after I wrote my first book and what I live by in my writing life. If you are new to writing, I would suggest some introspection on where your inspiration comes from, so when you need it, you know where to find it. Understand that everyone takes a different avenue to writing. No two writers approach it the same way. Don’t second guess your approach. If it works for you, run with it. Seek out other writers who are on the same path those who will support you. Considering forming your own group—it’s not hard, I actually did it. And finally, make a commitment to your work-in-progress and stick to it. It’s the only way to the end.
My hope is that you embrace your call to write and figure out the puzzles pieces that will make it all come together in a beautiful story. You can accomplish what may feel impossible with the right tools and with the understanding of the writer within you.
by: Christine Schimpf
Christine Schimpf was born and raised in a small town in southeastern Wisconsin. Growing up she enjoyed fishing with her dad, bicycle riding, and climbing trees. She attended a Catholic elementary school where she met her husband in second grade.
When she’s not writing she enjoys planting seeds and flowers in the spring, golfing and kayaking in the summer, and playing indoor tennis over the winter months. She and her dog Rudy walk every day unless the temperature drops below 20 degrees. Presently, she lives on five acres in the country with her husband and golden retriever.