I’m having best time in my online book club that uses Seated with Christ to teach advanced writing techniques. Last week, we looked at the three best questions to ask before you launch into a new project (not just writing!): Why this? Why now? Why me?
But this morning I thought of two more questions that help shape your writing life: When? and What form? The “Why now?” of the first question refers to the timeliness of your message, but the “When?” question here refers to your personal life and whether or not it’s a good time to embark on this project. In other words, is now the best time for you to complete a manuscript?
It’s actually a trick question.
The answer is always YES! There’s never going to be a “right time” because conditions won’t ever be perfect. So get to it! Write! Now is the best time!
But the next question matters deeply for your expectations and sense of purpose as you write. What form should this project take? We tend to think that the only form that matters is the manuscript that’s bought by a traditional publisher. This narrow lens can bring more discouragement that you can imagine as you wait for that book contract. But if you’re a writer; write no matter what. Write your message for magazines, blogs, podcasts, or self-publishing. Write for the newspapers. Write for your website. Is doesn’t always have to be the big publisher. And perhaps it shouldn’t. Think carefully and prayerfully about what form this message might take. Open your mind and heart to new possibilities.
I’ve published 4 books with a larger traditional publisher and 3 with self-publishing platforms. I’ve also turned messages into journal articles, blogs, speeches, podcasts, and lesson plans. Each writing opportunity kept me writing and focused on my craft, not the outcome. With each new project, I think to myself: Is this a book for a traditional publisher or not? Is this for me? For my family? For my blog? Is this really a speech or a podcast? Is this actually an article for a newspaper?
And then, I just write. I pray you do, too.
(If you know my story, you know my journey of surrendering the writing dream. Here’s the post I wrote called, “How My Publishing Dream Came True.” )