Stephanie Chandler wrote in her book, “From Entrepreneur to Infopreneur” that a survey indicated nearly 80 percent of Americans would like to write a book. That’s a stunning number of potential writers. There are a variety of reasons why some do what’s needed to become a writer and why others never attempt it. One key is the word “like.” Whenever we say we’d like to do something, we mean it would be nice if it happened, but maybe we don’t have the passion to make it happen. Maybe you’re one whose passion is strong enough, but you’re just not sure how to get started. There’s really only one way: you must write. You have to decide your days as a hesitant writer are over.

The first thing hesitant writers need to do is decide whether they want to write articles, short stories, novels, or non-fiction books. You can hit only the target you aim at.

If articles are your interest, your research to get you started is simple. All you have to do is figure out what you want to write about and read articles on that topic. Pay attention to how each article is formatted; how many words are used to convey the intended message; how the article opens, fills in the content, then wraps up for readers. Notice tone, the writer’s voice, punctuation, and the writer’s bio. You can emulate any aspect of how the content appears to the eye as long as the material is your own.

What if a short story or novel is what you wish to attempt? My first recommendation is that you re-read one you really enjoyed. As you do this, take notes. Look at the format of paragraphs and chapters, especially dialogue. Note how characters speak to each other and how their personalities become clear through their actions. Pay attention to how the writer develops the plot. What did the writer do that kept you turning the pages and lost in the story or identifying with the characters? After you make your notes, think about what you want your story to be about if you don’t yet know. A helpful book is “The Weekend Novelist” by Robert J. Ray. His information guides you through character and plot development. Whatever your novel genre, Ray’s suggestions offer food for thought.

Perhaps non-fiction is your goal. Follow the same advice to re-read a book in the same field of interest as yours will be. Notice everything including what you like and don’t like about how information is presented. Create a list of chapter headings you then expand with section headings. This helps you identify what you intend to include in the content, and how and when you present it. If you’re inspired to write about a particular section in Chapter 7 rather than starting in Chapter 1, do this. Each time you develop a section, you move closer to completing your manuscript.

What will move you closer to completion is 1) Target a goal; 2) Take aim at it through preparation, writing, and rewriting; 3) Commit to doing what it takes to make it happen; and 4) Choose or find a way to feel excited about what you’re doing each time you sit down to work on it.

What’s best to avoid is re-reading and editing anything and everything you’ve written each time you begin to work on it again. This is time-wasted effort and you may extend how long it takes to complete what you’re writing. Write until you feel you’ve done all you can, print out a copy, put it away for a week (or up to a month) if it’s a manuscript or a day if it’s an article, then return to it with fresh eyes and the mindset of an editor/rewriter. You have a right to feel proud of what you’ve done, but now you need to be serious about paying attention to flow, typos, content or plot development, consistencies, and whether or not you’ve left questions unanswered for readers.

Perhaps what’s described above seems too involved or tedious. If this is your feeling, you’d like to be a writer. If the information feels more like guidance to get you started, you intend to be a writer. If reading this has moved you from a hesitant writer to an intentional one, it’s time to put on your passionate, on-purpose cap and get going.

Becoming a writer is fun. Being one is even better. Welcome challenges. There’s nothing like a creative challenge well met to open the door to more creative opportunities.

Author's Bio: 

Joyce Shafer is an author; article writer; and offers freelance critiquing, proofreading, editing, and rewriting services for writers. Learn more about “Write, Get Published, and Promote: An Easy e-Guide for New and Aspiring Writers” at .