Monday, July 12, 2010

Narrowing Down Your Options

A lot of newer writers I meet find themselves overwhelmed with the myriad of options in the field of writing. They struggle, trying to decide between writing articles, devotions, fiction, non-fiction, etc. Writing is a big field, and if you didn’t study some aspect of it in college, the choices can be daunting.

My suggestion—take a deep breath—you don’t have to start out with a specialty. As a matter of fact, until you’ve tried several different genres, you probably shouldn’t limit yourself too much. Even those of us with formal training find ourselves morphing into a different kind of writer than we envisioned at the start of our career.

Give yourself time to flex your wings. Try out different things. Write for the web, for print—even try your hand at a short story or flash fiction. Not only will variety help you determine the kind of writing you love, it will improve your ability overall. Here are some other tips to help you get started.
  • Look for a writers group in your area. There may or may not be one, but if there is, it will help immensely. It gives you perspective when you see what others are doing and you’re able to ask questions.
  • Take a look at what you like to read. What touches you? What do you find yourself saying, “If I could write anything, I’d write this?” The answer may surprise you and lead you down a different writing path.
  • Determine what you want to accomplish with your writing. Is it to touch people, glorify God, earn a little extra money? The answer may not be all one thing, but you should have one that stands out from the others.
These tips will help make your choices easier. They will also help you determine where to go for further training. For example, I might recommend one book for a writer who wants to write devotions and a completely different one for someone who is interested in freelancing as a career.

So, bottom line, don’t be afraid of all the choices—embrace them! And don't be afraid to try more than one project at a time. Trust me, it can be done.

I’d love to hear from you. What kind of writing do you like to do? How did you discover it?
Don’t forget to join the conversation!


  1. Wow Edie! You are writing blog posts just for me today! Thanks!

    I read a ton of non-fiction, usually family/marital/parenting oriented material. I have recently put myself on a quest to read more fiction, as I haven't really read "for fun" in years.

    I am trying to put irons in many fires with my writing. I've tried devotions, articles, and have the first page of a fiction novel written. God only knows which direction He'll take it in, but I'll keep putting my fingers to the keyboard in an attempt to find my writing career path!

  2. Great advice, Edie! There are so many opportunities out there. Most writers start out thinking they have to write a book. But I'm confident my willingness to write magazine articles and scripts gave me the practical experience I needed to be able to make the transition to book-length projects.

  3. It's encouraging to hear that keeping your options open is a good thing.

    I feel like writing is a a whole new world I've just entered, and am excited to explore! But I realize there's so much I don't know.

    Every time I meet with other writers, it encourages me to keep working on things. Thanks for your encouragement.

  4. Thanks for the advice! I am almost done doing the apprenticeship program through the Christian Writers Guild where you have a chance to write all kinds of pieces. I love how it has stretched me and opened me up to new types of writing.

    I want to work toward a freelance writing career. Are there specific books that you would recommend for me to reference?


  5. Crossroads, There are a lot of great books out there. I review my favorites every Thursday. If I had to narrow down the list for someone just starting out in freelance writing these are my picks:
    How to Write What You Want
    By Dr. Dennis Hensley
    Any book by Robert Bly
    Hope this helps!