Not a Writer? You Can Be! 4 Ways to Start Telling Your Story Today


By Whitney Jones

Have you ever finished telling an amazing story only to have your listener say, “you should write a book about that!”? And then have you thought to yourself, “yeah, I should, but…” and proceeded to remind yourself that while you are a mother / father / businesswoman / doctor / daycare employee / mail carrier / insert profession here, you are not a writer?  You might even say it out loud: “I would, you know, but I’m not a writer.”

But you can be a writer!

And if you have an amazing story to tell, you should be a writer!

One of the reasons Julie and I began From Nothing to Novel is to encourage storytellers to tell their stories, to write their books, and to give them the support and guidance they need to complete their projects.

We believe that you do not have to have been an English major or journalist, or come from other writing-heavy backgrounds, to tell good stories. We want all storytellers, regardless of their professional experiences and identities, to tell their stories and put their words down on paper.

Everyone has the potential to be a writer.

So, if you have a story to tell but don’t know where to start, try these 4 tips!

Create a support system.

We say this a lot on From Nothing to Novel. From Julie’s series on building your writing community to Bri Spicer’s suggestion to surround yourself with brilliant people, we believe that nothing is more important for experienced and inexperienced writers as having a battalion of supporters for your writing. Check out what Bri and Julie say, linked in this paragraph, to help you develop a game plan for building your writing community now!

Read, read, and read some more

This is a worn-out bit of advice, but always true nonetheless. There is no better way to

You certainly don’t have to read novel theory, but some of it is helpful and readable!

become a better writer than to read. Remember that it is especially important to read books within the genre you are hoping to join. As Genna Gazelka points out in her post for us, you can improve the literary quality of your work by alluding to this literary tradition within your story. But also read ABOUT writing–books on craft and books by writers about writing. See what the masters have to say about writing, and then try your hand at it!


Be true to your authentic voice

You want your story to be your story. While, as I mentioned above, it’s important to read the works of others and to learn from them, what will make your writing unique is staying true to your own storytelling voice. It takes practice to find and develop your writing voice, so write a lot! But if you stick with it, you will find what rhythms and colors of language work best for  your ideas. Me? I tend toward the lyrical, writing sentences like this:

Each weekend they came with tents and boats, towing careless parents behind them. And each weekend Philip gave the lake to them. He retreated to his father’s library, only sneaking out to watch them climb the orange bluffs and throw themselves downward into the water, over and over again.

But others, like Gail Carriger, have more fast-paced or irreverent voices. Take a look at an example from her delightfully fun young adult book, Etiquette and Espionage:

Mrs. Barnaclegoose had arrived with a stranger in tow. Meddling old battle-ax. With the hallways patrolled by siblings and household mechanicals, eavesdropping was out of the question.

Whatever, your voice is, you do you. Your unique voice will help you tell your unique story. The rhythmic cadences of my sentences (hopefully) match the thoughtful and dreamy nature of my characters and setting. And the direct observations and to-the-point declarations of Carriger’s prose is perfect for her no-nonsense Victorian heroine.

Find equipment/materials that help

Perhaps the most practical of my suggestions is that, to be a writer, you need the proper equipment. This could mean a journal and a

When I write, I need pens, highlighters, notebooks, my computer, AND my phone. Also, my big empty desk!

writing utensil. This could mean a voice recorder. This should mean, in this technological day and age, a computer of some sort with a  word processor of your choice. But it can also mean any number of novel writing apps and programs. Figure out what works best for you and become an expert in using your devices to tell your story!


Still not sure?

Understandable! It’s a big leap to say, “I’m a writer!” It seems so impractical. But the world wants your story! So, if you’re needing more inspiration, take a look at some amazing authors who didn’t come from writing backgrounds.


What about you other experienced writers in our community? What do you think new writers need or need to know in order to tell their stories?

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