“I’m just going to write because I cannot help it.”
– Charlotte Brontë
Writing is an enjoyable pastime, and many of us are drawn to putting our thoughts down on paper. There are numerous ways to tell your story, but how do you know what style or format will best capture what you want to say? Whether you desire to get published or just wish to write for yourself, here are a few ideas to help you decide what writing project may be best for you. Remember, you can always write across different forms – it’s about unleashing your creativity on the page or screen.
Novels are a big commitment, especially when you’re balancing work, study or family life. Writing a novel involves setting up a dedicated writing practice, which looks different for everyone: it may be waking up thirty minutes earlier in the morning, or writing late at night once the kids are asleep. Often you will need to snatch a moment when you can, scribbling down words on your lunch break, or during your daily commute. The main thing is commitment and setting an achievable goal. Start small – maybe 200 words a day, or 1000 words a week – and increase this over time as you become more confident.
Finishing a first draft of a novel is an amazing achievement, but it’s also only the beginning. Redrafting and editing can seem like an endless process, and you may feel like there’s always one more thing to do. If it takes a while, don’t worry – many writers spend years on their first novel. The good news is there are lots of opportunities these days for emerging novelists, including pitching opportunities, mentorships and unpublished manuscript competitions.
2. Short Story
Short stories are perfect for exploring a single idea or image that won’t leave you alone, especially if you are not yet ready to commit to a novel length work. Short stories can range from a few hundred words to 10,000, and are great practice for learning how to convey ideas succinctly – in short stories, a novel’s worth of meaning needs to be packed into a much shorter format. They are also great for experimenting with form and language.
Many authors pave a path to publication by starting with short stories, entering competitions and submitting their work to literary journals and magazines. These smaller achievements are enormous confidence boosters! And if you want to see your work in print, more short story collections are being published all the time.
Poetry is a unique art form – from its powerful, expressive, and often beautiful language, we gather so much from so few words. Poetry can also be playful, and perfect if you want to experiment with ways language can be shaped and formed. If you want to explore poetry in a longer narrative form, verse novels may be the perfect option.
Poets have numerous opportunities to perform, with the growing popularity of spoken word events. Writing poetry also has many benefits, including promoting creative thinking and emotional expression.
Always wanted to tell your life story? Perhaps you have been through a significant experience which you think others can relate to. A lot of comfort can be found in sharing personal stories, and in this way, it might be therapeutic for you, too. Memoir is a powerful way to incorporate your memories into narrative form. If you’ve got journals, or letters from family members, these can be a great source of information.
If you’re more into facts than fiction, and have an area of interest or expertise, general nonfiction may be for you. This will require a great deal of research and referencing, but can be a rewarding experience and a great opportunity to pursue an area you’re passionate about. Even if you think your family history is the stuff of legend – why not write it down? If you’d like to see your project in bookstores, you can also pitch ideas for nonfiction books to publishers without having a completed manuscript.
Love movies with a compelling narrative and classic quotes? Perhaps you have a knack for one-liners and conveying rich visual details into manageable script. Writing for the screen might require some research regarding format and terminology, but the pay-off is the possibility of seeing your words and ideas come to life on TV or film. The screenwriting industry in Australia may be small, but keep an eye out for script competitions and other ways to get your script out there.
Online writing has never been more popular. Numerous website templates make it so easy to host a blog on whatever topic you like, whether it’s book reviews, travel experiences, or just simply your own thoughts. You can update your blog as much as you like and directly engage with your audience. It’s also a great way to build an online presence if you’re looking to get your name out there, or to find readers that are interested in your content.