Write It Sideways

37 Questions New Writers Should Ask Themselves

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?