Today’s brilliant post is by Nancy Julien Kopp:
I’m a proponent of starting with small projects and moving on, step by step, to the bigger ones. Many writers dream of publishing a novel or a full book memoir. Some will start out their writing journey by beginning the pursuit of that dream immediately. It’s fine to have a worthy goal, but diving in the deep end before you know how to swim can bring big problems.
Start small. Write a personal essay or memoir about an occurrence, something that happened and had some meaning for you. Later, it might become a part of the book you hope to write. Those little snippets of memoir can grow into something much larger, as can your personal experiences that taught you a lesson, as we see in personal essays.
Novelists can practice their skill by writing short stories before attempting a full novel. Lots of short stories. Use all the tools you have as a writer to write a good short story, then submit it. If you have some success in selling your short stories, it could very well be time to begin writing the novel you’ve been thinking about for a very long time.
Many writers want to start with the big project, to write a memoir or a novel before writing anything else. They have read many books. How hard can it be? Some will begin by reading a book or two on writing novels (or memoirs), and that’s fine. Others will not bother with reading a book about how to write a novel. They’ll start with chapter one, page one. A few might do very well with this method, but most are going to run into one roadblock after another. At some point, the whole thing could become overwhelming.
If that happens, step back and work on smaller projects for a while. Read some of those reference books on writing a memoir or novel. Attend a workshop about the same. Talk to other writers. Gather all the information you can before you tackle that big idea.
One of my keywords is patience. Don’t be in such a hurry to tackle the big game plan. Take your time, learn as you go, but continue to keep the original goal in mind. Start on the big scheme when you feel ready. With some success at smaller projects, you’ll have some confidence in your ability to take on the big one.
Nancy Julian Kopp has been published in 22 Chicken Soup for the Soul books, several anthologies including The Write Spot: Possibilities, newspapers, magazines and ezines. Her writing includes award-winning fiction for children, creative nonfiction, poetry, travel and personal essays. She was named Prose Writer of the Year in 2013 by the Kansas Authors Club.