A question from reader: “I am trying to write a book about my life and where it’s going from my childhood abuse…can you help me?”
First, I am so sorry for the abuse that you endured. This breaks my heart for you and it broke God’s heart. Though writing about it can definitely function as one of the avenues for healing, I would also suggest some kind of counseling or support group as well to make sure that you’ve worked through it and are on the path of forgiveness.
When writing memoir, especially about something so painful, I suggest asking God to help you remember the details that are important…that he would bring to mind only what will be helpful for your healing and comforting to your readers, and that he will protect your heart in the process.
Some general how-to-get-started-writing tips:
Read a lot, but especially the kind of book you wish to write. This will help you get a feel for rhythm and structure.
Read books on the craft of writing. Some great ones: Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott, On Writing by Stephen King, Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg, just to name a few (there are so many good ones).
Take a writing class at your local community college or park district.
Journal daily, even if for just a few minutes. This will help to clear out the mental cobwebs. I can’t tell you the number of times that I’ve written something and then re-read it minutes later and I am shocked at what it turns out was on my mind. Parker Palmer calls this eavesdropping on your own life and it’s stunningly beautiful when it happens.
For a laugh, and a huge dose of reality, check out this four-minute video clip called “So You Want to Write a Novel” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c9fc-crEFDw). Hysterical and painfully true.
Join a writers’ group. I’ve been a part of one for about a year now and the difference in the quality and quantity of my writing, simply by being part of a tribe of women who love Jesus and love to write, has grown exponentially. This group of women has my back in the literary world and we want each other to flourish and succeed. Being a part of a writing group will help you become a better writer.
Be an observer of life. Most of my blog posts come from something I’ve seen or heard the day or two before. Look around you…there is material everywhere.
Get a copy of The Writer’s Market Guide or The Christian Writer’s Market Guide. In this you will find listings of publishers, agents, periodicals and what they’re looking for. This is a fantastic resource and is updated annually.
Start small. Set up a blog and update it regularly. Submit articles to online magazines. Begin to build experience and your platform through trial and error.
Last but not least, write. I know, I know…duh, right? However, for me, the hardest part of writing is actually, you know, sitting down and telling myself it’s time to write and then actually writing. So, come up with a schedule if that works for you. Or, plan to write for fifteen minutes every morning and fifteen minutes every evening. Or make a date with yourself and go to the local coffee shop every Saturday morning for a couple hours. Whatever works…just literally sit down and write.
I’m totally just scratching the surface here. There are so many tips, so many starting places. But if you feel compelled to write and you enjoy it, it’s a gift. I seriously can’t believe I get to do this. I am in love with my calling. And if it’s your calling too, take the time to develop it and relish in it.