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Becoming a Writer

Published January/February 2009

Becoming a WriterHow do you become a writer? Where do story ideas come from? How do you cultivate creativity, imagination, and inspiration? These and other questions are explored for those who are thinking about starting a journey in fiction writing—or who just need a reminder of why you started writing in the first place.

Becoming a Writer: Why I Write

    How does someone “become” a writer? That’s a question I get a lot when people find out I’m published. I’ve heard of people who’ve sat down with the companion workbook of Donald Maass’s Writing the Breakout Novel, following all of the steps in it and “writing” a novel. Some have even gotten published that way. I also know a lot of people who didn’t start writing until they were adults, and many of them have had great success as well. But if you talk to these folks and really dig deep, you’re most likely going to find that two things are true . . .
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Becoming a Writer: My Road to Publication

    Light broke through the darkness of secrecy in my soul. I wasn’t the only weirdo in the world! Other people did this, too, and talked about it! Not only talked about it but were proud of what they were doing.
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Becoming a Writer: So You Want to Be a Writer?

    In my mind, what separates true “writers” from those who “want to write” is the compulsion to actually put words on the page. This goes for every type of writing there is: fiction, nonfiction, poetry, drama, essay, memoir, etc. If you truly are going to be a writer, there must be somewhere within you the drive, the desire, to put pen to paper, fingers to keyboard, and actually write.
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Becoming a Writer: Where Do Stories Come From?

    Answering the question, “Where do story ideas come from?” is very much like answering the baby question. There’s the stork-like answer we give to non-writing friends and then there’s the full disclosure we discuss among fellow writers.
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Becoming a Writer: Imagine That!

    I cannot define where imagination comes from any better than C. S. Lewis did. But I do know that the more I pay attention to those “pictures” that come into my head, the more I allow myself time to think about them and let them ferment and develop, the more frequently and clearly they come.
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Becoming a Writer: Creativity & Inspiration

    Well, the biggest difference is that imagination is passive while creativity is active. Just look at the root of the words: image and create. One’s a noun, one’s a verb. With our imaginations, we form images in our minds; with our creativity, we do something with those images, whether it’s painting, acting, composing music, or writing poems or stories.
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Becoming a Writer: How Do I Get Started?

    There’s a huge difference between “getting an idea” for a story and actually beginning to write that story. So there are two issues we need to examine: how to choose the story idea and how to get started writing it.
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Becoming a Writer: Advice from Best-Selling Authors

    Writing tips from Meg Cabot, Catherine Cookson, Garrison Keillor, Roald Dahl, Stephen King, James Herriot, Kurt Vonnegut, Barbara Taylor Bradford, Jeffrey Archer, and Tom Clancy.
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Becoming a Writer: The Best Advice I Ever Received

    Back at the beginning of this series, I mentioned attending the 2001 Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers’ Conference at Ridgecrest, NC. Up until that time, I’d been writing and writing and writing for years. I’d even majored in creative writing (and hated it) many years before that. At the conference, I took the Fiction 101 track, taught by author T. Davis Bunn. It was pretty early on in the first day’s workshop that I heard the piece of advice that had the most profound influence on my writing career of anything I’ve learned since . . .
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Becoming a Writer: How Do I Know When I’m Finished?

    I met a fellow writer for coffee and dessert the other night, and we talked about our experiences with finishing manuscripts. And I realized: there is a certain euphoria, a certain feeling of accomplishment, of fulfillment, that comes from finishing a manuscript.

    But once you’ve written “The End,” does that mean you’re “finished” with that manuscript?
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