10 Tips for Writing Your Impactful Story

How to start writing when you don’t know where to begin

Starting your novel or a piece of longer writing can seem like a daunting task. For some, a blank page is intimidating, leaving you to ask, “where do I even start?” But at Ignite, we see that blank pages are brimming with possibilities. We see them as infinite opportunities for passion, experimentation, exploration, self-discovery, and personal healing. We want you to see it that way as well. That’s why we’re sharing 10 tips to help you start your writing journey.

At Ignite, we like to say that it’s not books that are our forte, but stories. We love to help authors find their voice and share their stories in the most authentic, empowering, and well-crafted way. With 17 bestselling books under our belt, we’ve helped over 700 authors transform their lives on their writing journey. Throughout that process, we’ve learned a thing or two about how writers can build confidence, create discipline, and discover that passion to write a book.

We want your story to be heard and enjoyed, so we hope these tips help you get started. However, we want to say that every author (and their journey) is unique. There’s no wrong way to write your story, but there are ways to make it easier.

1. Start With an Outline

You need to know what direction your story is going in. It makes the writing process so much easier when you have a game plan and clarity on where your story will take the reader. When you use an outline, you don’t have to constantly think to yourself, “What am I going to write?” Instead of having to focus on what comes next, you can relax and focus on how you want to tell your story: the language you use, the themes you want to explore, the journeys you want your characters to go on.

Here’s our basic advice for writing a book outline: plan out the overall plot of your story, then break it down into chapters and, in some cases, even paragraphs. Think about where you want your impactful moments to be, and design your story so these get to be highlighted. You can make your outline as simple or as detailed as you like, but having one keeps you on track.


2. Set Deadlines and Schedule Time to Write

We’ve come across a lot of writers who feel that they can only write when they feel inspired. But here’s the problem, moments of inspiration come few and far between when you are not cultivating passion and inspiration. So get strict with yourself. Carve out time in your day to write, no matter what. And set goals and deadlines for yourself. Often, you’ll find that within 15 minutes of writing, you get in a flow. You begin putting yourself in a position to be inspired, instead of just waiting for it to happen.

Here are some great questions to ask yourself when you are creating a writing schedule:

  • How often each week do you want to focus on your writing?
  • If you’re going to write everyday, when and for how long can you commit?
  • Can you get up a little earlier or go to bed a little later so you can write then? 
  • Are there any other times in the day you can make room to write?
  • Do you have someone you can share your goals and deadlines with? Someone you trust to keep you accountable? They can help you stay motivated and get it done.

3. Have Friends Help You Brainstorm

Sometimes you need an outside perspective. You’d be surprised how fresh eyes on your ideas, outline, or writing can transform your work. You’ll find that people will ask questions about your story that you haven’t considered yet, will share how your writing made them feel, and you’ll learn how they may have interpreted certain aspects of your story differently than how you intended them. Your friends can also offer new ideas for your story and can transform the way you think about your novel.

Things like writing groups can especially help with this as well. While you may be writing solo, a book comes to life because of the many people who love the story inside. Let other people help you.

4. If You Can’t Write, Research

Writer’s block: an author’s worst nightmare. Even world-famous authors aren’t immune to sometimes struggling to put words on the page. But how do you get yourself out of it? We’ve noticed that authors often find themselves unable to write because they don’t fully know what happens next in their work. There are questions about the direction of the story, the details of the setting, or the characteristics of some of the characters that need to be answered before moving forward. That’s why we’ve found that often the best way to get out of your writer’s block is to do some research. 

Let’s say you’re writing about your own life and there is a scene between you and a family member you just can’t write. Well, call them up and ask about it! You’ll gain new clarity and insight. Let’s say you have a story set in New York City and your character is taking the train to work… but the scene won’t come to you. Taking the time to research the transit lines and atmosphere of the NYC subway will inspire you to pick the pen back up!

Renowned author Colson Whitehead has said about writer’s block: “Writer’s block for me is a question I haven’t solved yet—Why is my character doing this? What happens after they meet? What the hell is going on in this scene?” If you’ve got questions like these, maybe the answers lie in a couple hours of research.

5. Be Confident

You are the storyteller. You are the one in total control of the narrative within your book and you’re the only person in the world who can write your novel the exact way it was meant to be written. So have confidence in yourself and your writing. Your story matters and no word on the page is permanent. If you aren’t happy with your work, you can edit it. If you don’t like a certain part of your plot, you can change it. If you feel like there’s something missing, you can add it in later. You are the one who is making this amazing story come to life, so be confident!

6. Expect Your First Draft to Be Bad — And Embrace It!

Even the best authors in the world don’t publish their first drafts. So don’t feel put off if your work doesn’t come out perfect the first time around. In fact, it’s actually better that it doesn’t. The editing process lets you bring new ideas and style into your writing weeks and even months after you’ve written it. It allows you to explore your ideas in the best way possibleー writing about them!ー and then perfect and refine afterwards. Anticipate major growth the more you write.

Another important aspect of embracing the “bad” first draft is that it gives you the freedom to put a piece of writing to the side and keep going. Instead of agonizing over small word choices or the minutiae of punctuation, you can invest that energy into your next chapter and keep a good writing pace. You have to keep pushing forward and build your momentum. It gets you that much closer to the finish line!

7. Get Excited About WHY You’re Writing

You have a reason behind your story. There is a purpose behind the book you’re writing. So if you’re feeling stuck and finding it hard to commit to your writing, remind yourself why you’re writing the book in the first place. Does your story have a message that you need to share with the world? Is there a topic within your book that you need to see represented on the page? Do you love the plot, world, and characters you’ve created, and know others will too? Will your writing help grow your brand?

Remind yourself of why you decided to write this particular story in the first place. Let that reason invigorate you to write and inspire you to stay consistent and on schedule. The why behind the story is your passion, your drive. Let it be the thing that propels you forward on your writing journey.

8. Edit as You Go

Just like starting your story, starting the editing process can be daunting if you wait until the entire first draft of your manuscript is done. That’s why we find it helpful to edit as you go. Our advice: after you write a handful of chapters, hit pause on your writing and go back and edit. In fact, it’s helpful to put time for editing into your writing schedule (if you’re taking our advice from tip #2!) and make it part of the process.

It helps to go back to your writing while it’s still fresh. You’re able to remember what you wanted to add, what you knew needed to be cut, and what needed to be changed to align with the vision you had for the work while you were writing. It also makes going back once the whole novel draft is written much easier to organize and work through.


9. Don’t Compare Your Journey to Someone Else’s

Every book is different, and every author’s writing process behind the book is different too. The comparison game can zap you of energy and fill you with self-critical thoughts that don’t belong. Sure, maybe you heard of an author who quickly wrote a book and got it picked up by a publishing house soon after. That’s awesome!. If that’s not your journey, then that is totally okay.

Your process is going to be totally unique to you. So don’t worry about what other people are doing. Maybe it takes you longer to write your story, or maybe you need to edit your work more than somebody else. But who says that’s a bad thing? Your journey is your journey. If you did it any other way, it wouldn’t be yours. Don’t let comparisons drag you down.


10. Embrace Your Unique Voice!

No two people tell a story the same way. The way you tell your story is unique and is something that should be celebrated! As you write, you’ll begin to notice your voice shining through. This is amazing! This is what makes your writing authentic, dynamic, and new. So lean into it. You don’t want to sound like everyone else. Allow yourself to shine and stand out!

You want your writing to have personality, so don’t shy away from experimenting with voice and style. You might discover the secret sauce that your story needs, and if your efforts are a bust… guess what? You can just edit it out.

Ready to Write?

We hope these tips help you make the leap and get started on writing your incredible, amazing, impactful story. Our last piece of advice? Start right now. Open up that blank document and get excited. Write whatever pops into your head: plot bullet points, a list of characters, a couple sentences describing the setting, and of course your incredible ‘Ignite Moment’ that changed the trajectory of your life. Lay that foundation. Have fun and focus on the person that needs to read exactly what you have to share. 

To take all these ideas one step further, allow us to leave you with a writing prompt. Instead of feeling intimidated by starting your story, make the first paragraph of your notebook or word document or however you write the answer to this question: Why does my story matter? 

Take the time to think about the impact your story could make in the life of someone else and use that as encouragement each time you feel unsure or not clear on what is next. Allow your answer to serve as a reminder of the passion, excitement, and determination behind why you decided to tell your story.

Best of luck on your writing adventure!

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