Whether you are planning to write your first draft, publish your first novel or your hundredth one, there are timeless questions that every writer should ask before putting a single word down on paper or screen.

These are not the typical Who, What, Why, When, Where.

These are not questions about style, plot or character development. Those questions must come later and will fall organically in the writing process. But before those details can be crafted, there are soul-searching questions for the writer and the writer alone. The answers to these questions become the foundation for the work, the fuel for the creativity.

Think about the foundation of your creative mind as a grand ballroom. Before a new event can be held there it has to be revisited, prepared. Its purpose must be reasserted, its beauty admired, so it can inspire something true.

These questions are not about what’s out there, or what should be. They focus on what’s in here, within your heart and mind, your creative spirit, your soul.

1.Why am I going to write?

Everything we write should have a meaningful purpose attached to it. Even when it’s only meaningful to us, it should also add something of value to someone. The act of writing is tangible proof that you have the courage to act, and put yourself in a vulnerable position. For every new piece of writing, our “why” should be restated, changed or refined. It should be at the forefront and ever present. Our “why” won’t be a shelter from criticism and judgment, but a shield. (Idea: develop a writing mantra like Elizabeth Gilbert’s “Show up” or Anne Lamott “Empty Frame”)

2.Who is asking me to write?

Are you writing because someone asked or told you to? Someone stroke your ego? or do you feel a higher calling? Do you simply feel you must? or do you see an opportunity or profit at the end of the tunnel? All are valid reasons, and knowledge will educate your efforts. The most important thing is for you to be honest with yourself. The motivating voice inside your head will show up every step of the way, till the very end. Isn’t best to know who you are talking to?

3.Am I ready to write?

Writing takes time, effort, commitment and creativity, as much as it takes innate talent. With every new project you must face the same old fears and insecurities. So, you must remember, not being “ready”to write, be it emotionally, mentally, or physically, doesn’t mean you can’t make progress. It means it’s the time for planning, researching, jotting down ideas, themes, names, etc. It’s time to practice, and time to fall in love with the process again. Maybe it’s a time for exploration and discovery. Or maybe, you are ready. And if so, don’t wait for anybody or anything. Start!

What are some of the questions you ask yourself before you start writing?

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