The One Thing You Need to Do

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

It’s that time of the year again. As December flies by, we find ourselves bemoaning what we didn’t get done. And let’s face it. 2020 was a sucker punch for us all. No one had the year they expected, so it isn’t surprising that many of our goals have gone unmet. Many of my writing friends are tweeting and posting the same question – how can I get back into writing in 2021? 

Want to know a little secret? No, I’m not going to sell you a ten step program guaranteed to put you on the New York Times list. But I am going to tell you what one thing you need to do as a writer. 

You need to write. 

You probably see a lot of posts telling you what how-to books you need to read. Or they are recommending writing classes, online conferences or Zoom webinars. 

And if any of these things are what you need to do to get the words flowing, fine. Sign up for my classes. I won’t stop you. Attend a webinar on creating scenes. Whatever. 

But the one thing you need to do is write. 

Not sure what to write? Here are 4 suggestions. 

For the compulsive list maker: 

Make a list of the movies you’ve seen. Or list the books you’ve read. List your favorite book characters. List 10 settings you would like to utilize. List the poets/paintings/ice cream flavors that inspire you. If you are making a list, you are writing. 

For the writer with little or no energy who is aching to start a specific story: 

Write the first sentence. Make it compelling. Capture your setting. Fiddle as needed but stop at that one sentence. Unless you really need to write on. Whether you craft a sentence or a paragraph, you are writing. 

For the lover of fairy tales: 

Play with a favorite story. Retell Goldilocks from the point-of-view of Baby Bear. Or give it a new setting. What if Hansel and Gretel weren’t roaming through the woods but a gated community with a designer coffee bar? Play and have fun. Even if you just take notes, you are writing. 

For the Instagram fan: 

Scroll through your feed. When you find an image that grabs your attention, use it as a story starter for a micro story. No, not a 300 word micro story. Is that really even “micro”? Seems a bit excessive to me. What can you do in 50 words? 25 words? 10 words? 

A writer writes. Sometimes a writer writes something long and lyrical. Sometimes a writer writes something short and sharp. But the one constant? 

A writer writes. 


Sue Bradford Edwards' is the author of over 27 books for young readers.  To find out more about her writing, visit her site and blog, One Writer's Journey.

Sue is also the instructor for  Research: Prepping to Write Nonfiction for Children and Young Adults (next session begins January 4, 2021) and Writing Nonfiction for Children and Young Adults (next session begins January 4, 2021). 


Sioux Roslawski said...

Sue--It's true. (See, I'm a poet ;) Writers write. They write letters to include with their Christmas cards. They look forward to a whole weekend of writing. They steal some time in the morning--when everybody else is asleep--to write.

They write.

Angela Mackintosh said...

I love these ideas, Sue! I recently took my true story about breaking my ankle on the trail and wrote it as a cnf fairy tale. I think it made the story more interesting. :) I wrote 5k a couple mornings ago in anticipation of an upcoming January workshop. The workshop is for cnf pieces in progress up to 5k each sharing session, so it was more of a Oh crap, I better have something to start with situation. Whatever works, right? I like the list idea, too, because I've noticed a lot of lit journals are publishing lists.

I also think anyone who is interested in writing for children should take your upcoming workshop! January is go time, and your class provides plenty of inspiration and incredible detailed instruction.

Jeanine DeHoney said...

A great post that rings true Sue. Sitting down and writing is the most important thing we writers can do.

Sue Bradford Edwards said...

Thank you for making me laugh! And I will leave the rhyming to you.

Thank you for the encouraging words re: my workshop.

It is funny what motivates us though. I still find CNF intimidating. I'll have to stick with reading it vs writing it!

I'll have to look for the lists in lit journals. I'm curious about what they are publishing.


Angela Mackintosh said...

Sue, my writing buddy Ashley Memory just had a creative nonfiction list published a couple days ago at The Disappointed Housewife: "Ten Writing Prompts Inspired by the Sundance Holiday Catalog." She also had another funny one published there a while back: "Living Social Shopping Cart of Your Vindictive Ex-Girlfriend ~ Post-Relationship Tools." If you have a list like this, you should submit it to them! :)

Nicole Pyles said...

Awwwwwww do I hafta????

One thing that has helped me lately is cutting down on technology, and DEFINITELY cutting back on social media. Like majorly. I can't say that I'm back creatively completely but I'm doing more than I did.

I'm also handwriting more! I am extending a story I did as a flash and adding to it. It's fun to see where it can go. One agonizing word at a time!

Sue Bradford Edwards said...

I have absolutely NOTHING like these lists but they are so fun! I esp love the second one. May have to play around with this.

Going offline definitely helps. As does leaving my phone in another room. Of course, then I have to call myself to find it again.

Good luck on extending your story!


Cathy C. Hall said...

Love your suggestions, Sue, and I agree with...was it Nicole? Stepping back from the constant barrage of media frees one's mind. Basically, I just need to give my brain some breathing room to write!

Renee Roberson said...

I've been a little sad lately because I seem to have lost the inspiration to write fiction. I think I've been stuck in non-fiction/magazine article/podcast script land for so long I'm in a rut. I do like your idea of tinkering with microfiction so that may be a way for me to get back into the fiction groove. And I think lists will be some great ways for me to crank out some posts for my blog! Thanks for the kick in the pants.

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