37 Questions New Writers Should Ask Themselves

by Suzannah Windsor Freeman

Woman writing and thinking

How does one go from thinking “I like to write,” to “I need to write,” to “I want to be published” ?

It’s something people jump into all the time, usually without much thought. Generally, it’s because writing is an inexpensive hobby, even when it comes to submitting work for possible publication. I suppose many feel there’s not much to lose if you give up or fail.

Still, that’s not the greatest attitude to begin with. If you’re going to get serious about something, you need to know what you’re getting into, where you want to go, and how you’re going to get there.

If you want to start taking your writing more seriously, stop and ask yourself these questions first:

  1. Why do I want to be published?
  2. What type of writing will I to focus on?
  3. What expectations do I have for myself as a writer?
  4. Are my expectations realistic?
  5. What is my ultimate goal for my writing?
  6. What knowledge do I have about the publishing process?
  7. What areas of the publishing process do I need to research more?
  8. What time of day am I the most productive?
  9. What kind of writing schedule will I keep?
  10. Which authors do I most admire, and why?
  11. How would I describe my writer’s voice?
  12. What do I really know? How can I apply my real world knowledge and experience to my writing?
  13. What skills do I have that will help me move toward publication?
  14. What skills do I lack that I must improve if I want to be published?
  15. What kind of professional development will I pursue?
  16. What roadblocks am I likely to face in my road to publication?
  17. What is my contingency plan if I can’t get published?
  18. How will I build a platform–for either fiction or non-fiction?
  19. What goals will I set for today? This week? This month? This year?
  20. What am I doing to increase my exposure, even before I am published?
  21. How do I plan to maintain my motivation during the rough times?
  22. How will I deal with friends and family members who are not supportive of my writing?
  23. How will I financially support myself (and my family, if applicable) while I pursue publication–and even afterward?
  24. Where will I go for writing support–critique groups, forums, etc.?
  25. What might I need to give up to make this all happen?
  26. Where will I/do I write, and is it the most effective place?
  27. How do I plan to take care of myself physically and mentally during my writer’s journey?
  28. Am I a plotter or a pantser, and is my current system working for me?
  29. Will I focus on gaining minor publishing credits first (short stories, poetry), or jump right into full-length books?
  30. Under what circumstances, if any, will I decide to give up?
  31. Will I consider self-publishing?
  32. What feeling do I want readers to get from what I write?
  33. What are the most effective ways for me to get inspired?
  34. Will I write by hand or on a computer? Will I use a word processor or specialized writing software?
  35. What are the biggest struggles I face in this journey, and how do I plan to overcome them?
  36. How can I make my writing more authentic, more genuine?
  37. Will I enter writing contests, or not bother?

I could go on forever.

Some of these questions overlap, but they’re only meant to get you thinking. If you can’t answer each one of these questions right now, you probably need to spend more time considering your game plan.

So take a few moments, think about where you are right now as a writer, and where you plan to be a year from now. How about 5 years from now?

{ 15 comments }

Lori (JaneBeNimble) February 23, 2010 at 5:31 am

Hi Suzannah,

Wow, these are great questions! I recognize many from my past — some yet unanswered.

One thing that really stuck out, though, was your final question. Where do I plan to be in five years?

I’ve got some thinking to do!

(Hope all is well — I’ve been loving your site!)
~xo
.-= Read Lori (JaneBeNimble)´s last article ..Front Porch: Life Through Mia’s Eyes =-.

suzannah February 23, 2010 at 10:48 am

Hey Lori! How have things been going on your end?
Thanks for your comment. I think we all need to think about where we’d like to be in 5 years!

Lydia Sharp February 23, 2010 at 6:15 am

Excellent!
.-= Read Lydia Sharp´s last article ..HAPPY 10TH ANNIVERSARY! =-.

suzannah February 23, 2010 at 10:49 am

Thanks, Lydia!

TERI REES WANG February 23, 2010 at 7:27 am

What if the answer to each question is the same…”Dunno”..?
.-= Read TERI REES WANG´s last article ..Eco at The Super Store =-.

suzannah February 23, 2010 at 10:52 am

Teri,
If you can’t answer any of these questions, then you need to ask yourself if you consider writing a hobby or something more. If it’s a hobby, that’s totally fine. Your perspective on a lot of issues will simply be different to those of someone seeking publication. If, however, you want to be published, you’ll need to address these questions sooner or later. Thanks!

Rebecca @ Diary of a Virgin Novelist February 23, 2010 at 11:06 am

This was a fun post for me because it got me thinking about my own journey from: “I like to write,” to “I need to write,” to “I want to be published.” I don’t think I could have answered many of these questions two years ago but now? Now I have a solid answer to every single one. It feels good!

suzannah February 23, 2010 at 11:26 am

Hi Rebecca!

Like you, a few years back I would’ve been very fuzzy on these questions. Now I could easily rattle off my answers. It’s encouraging to see how far we can come in a relatively short period of time. Thanks:)

anne February 23, 2010 at 10:50 pm

I’m glad I came over and looked at this. I could answer almost very question with an honest answer. My desire is publication and that is my goal. I can clearly see where I will be 5 years from now, even 10 years from now. Thank you for posting this.

suzannah February 24, 2010 at 4:47 am

Anne,
What a wonderful feeling to know for sure where you want to go and how you’re going to get there! All the best:)

Larry February 24, 2010 at 1:36 am

Yes, yes and yes…. 34 more times. Excellent tools. The writing mindset is SO critical to this process. Thanks Suzannah!

suzannah February 24, 2010 at 4:45 am

Thank you! I’m sure by the time you’ve written and published 5 novels, you don’t *need* to really think about these things. But then again, reminding oneself of one’s publishing goals is always a good habit.

Suzanne February 25, 2010 at 3:33 pm

Great questions, I thought about my own answers to each as I read them…as to where I’d like to be five years from now: published.

suzannah February 25, 2010 at 7:40 pm

Thanks, Suzanne! Hope you reach your goal :)
.-= Read suzannah´s last article ..37 Questions New Writers Should Ask Themselves =-.

Veronica Purcell March 10, 2010 at 10:19 pm

Wow! That is a lot of questions to ask. Although, quite valid. For someone like me, it’s not so much as if I have a viable game plan more if I’m brave enough to play it, and whether I can pull it off successfully. Practice and persistents makes perfect I suppose. One day I’ll surprise myself and write a story people want to read.

Thanks for the checklist and motivational pep talk. I really need this right now.
.-= Read Veronica Purcell´s last article ..After the Fall Ebook Trailer =-.

{ 1 trackback }

Previous post:

Next post: