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Jump Start Your Writing By Following These Simple Guidelines


You’ve just completed a writing course. Perhaps recently graduated from college. Maybe your career has finally ended, and now that you’ve reached retirement you’re free to pursue your long-awaited dream of writing a book. You can’t wait to rush to the computer and finally get started on this long-held dream.

Slow down or you’ll find yourself in the clutches of that dread disease, Writer’s Block.

You don’t want to join the many hopefuls who sit and stare, their typing fingers paralyzed as they face a blank computer screen…their grand ideas shattered by the forbidding glower of that empty screen.

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To avoid placing yourself in that position, you have some major decisions to make: What is it you want to write? How do you want to present your thoughts? Will fiction or nonfiction work best? All of that sounds rather elementary, doesn’t it?

It is, but these are essential exercises if you want to become a proficient writer and avoid an author's greatest nemesis - writer's block. As I state in my latest book The Writer Within You, careful planning is the best “medication” to help you avoid that frightening disease.

Fiction or Nonfiction?

As you begin developing your idea, a key consideration is whether you choose to write fiction or nonfiction. You have something you hope to pass on to your readers, probably something very specific taken from the deep well of your life experience, family history or career. The latter is very popular among retired writers who are reluctant to sever all connections with their former careers.

Among the questions you must ask yourself is whether your writing tends to be more journalistic or more fanciful in style. Can it best be presented in a strictly factual context or will a fictitious setting better serve what you choose to write?

If you are leaning toward fiction, can you flesh out a first-rate plot? Do you have the sensitivity and the insight to fine tune characters and settings? Are you able to create dialogue that reflects the nature of your characters and their relationships to others in the book? If the answers are both honest and positive, then you can decide among the many subgenres of fiction. Will you write a novel, a mystery, a series of short stories?

When you embark on the nonfiction route, the decisions you face differ somewhat. It is important to determine whether the topic you choose is timely and whether there is a substantial audience interested in that topic. Make sure your knowledge of the subject is fully up to date. Many retirees, for example, don't stop to think that the world they knew in their working years has progressed to new levels.

Head to the library or to the Web. Do your research carefully. Make no assumptions that you are fully knowledgeable on a specific topic. Always remember that the key to writing successful nonfiction is content. To a publisher or to a reader looking for information, your understanding of the subject and your ability to explain it is of far greater consequence than the style in which you write.

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