• Chris OBrien

Three Types of Writing

Updated: Jul 31

At Long Overdue, we think of writing as having three different categories.

  • Writing for yourself

  • Writing for your family

  • Writing for a community

So we wanted to share a few thoughts on each category and highlight ways Long Overdue assists authors in each arena (+ share some ideas we have for the future).

Writing for Yourself

The most common example of this would be keeping a journal or a diary. The intention here is writing down your thoughts, memories, and some of those jokes you don't feel comfortable telling at work. This writing isn't for an audience. It's more like practicing yoga than putting on a performance.

Writing for Yourself can be incredibly therapeutic. Great for managing stress and anxiety. But I think for a lot of us, we have so many memories of writing being the exact opposite. We remember deadlines, letter grades, emails at work. We think about five-paragraph essays, sentences being crossed out, and buckets full of red ink. You get a flashback of all that and it's hard to picture writing being a relaxing activity.

Long Overdue's mission in the "Writing for Yourself" category is simply to encourage people. Provide writing prompts. Story ideas. You'll see on the Long Overdue Books site there's a whole section called, "Please, Take These Ideas." These book ideas are a free prescription for writer's block.

In the future, we'd love to host a Monday morning Zoom call where people could hop on and we'd share story prompts to get the creative juices flowing. Maybe some day do an in-person retreat. Almost like the writing version of a meditation group. If this at all sounds interesting, please email library@longoverduestories.com and we'll see if there's enough momentum to get this started.

Writing for your Family

This one's interesting because it's simultaneously the most natural to us and the rarest form of writing.

Natural because we love telling stories with those we're closest to, be that our family or best friends.

But these stories are rarely recorded or written down. This is a major bummer, because hearing that relative's voice, or experiencing their voice through the written word, it's such a personal connection to that parent or grandparent. And even if they have passed away, you can have others in the family share stories about them creating a meaningful biography.

For a lot of people, audibly telling a story feels more natural than sitting at the computer, typing something out. And while we'll always encourage the writing component, we also want to make the process easy for recording stories. That's why we're launching our Stories project.

How it works: You or the family member receives a box of story prompts. Setup your phone to record the audio, tell the stories, send to us, and then we can either transcribe the audio to text or start building our your family library of these audio chapters.

Writing for a Community

Writing a book is hard work, but the actual self-publishing process has never been easier.

The problem, though, is when a self-published/independent author puts their book out on Amazon, it is now 1 out of 5+ million books. In 2017 alone, there were 1.19 million self-published books. In 2018, that number increased by 40% to 1.68 million. I wouldn't be surprised to see us hit 2 million in 2020.

Amazon's great, but it's crowded. And promoting your book via a Facebook page or Instagram is a challenge because you're competing with a sea of baby photos and political rants.

To help authors in this arena, we wanted to create a space that would support local authors and showcase your finished works + works in progress. And there'd be no ads popping up or occupying parts of the screen.

On the Long Overdue Books website, the first thing you see is all the authors.

Then right below that section are the Student Authors (meaning writers who are in high school or college)

If you click on an author, the site takes you to their Author Page with information about them, why they love writing, their history with writing, and then sample chapters of their work. If applicable, there are Amazon links to their finished books.

Here's an example from local Lakeview East author D.L. Karabin:

At the very bottom of the page is a contact form so interested readers can connect with the author directly and receive updates regarding their work. That's one of the problems on Amazon, when someone buys your book, you have no idea who it was. No email, no connection. It's just a bar graph. Our hope is Long Overdue Books will build a closer connection between authors and their readers.

We also include a checkbox within the form so the readers can express interest in writing a book of their own. The authors on Long Overdue Books end up encouraging new authors who, hopefully, setup their own page. And the cycle continues.

Long Overdue Books isn't a publisher. It's more like a social network for self-published authors.

We think it's important for authors to start local, be that with their community or with their interested topic (or both). So, instead of saying, "My book is for anyone in the country, anyone in the world," the author says, "This is for my city. For my hometown. For anyone who is interested in this specific topic."

On Long Overdue Books, we're starting out with five writing groups/communities (we call this a "Contrade" inspired by a long-standing tradition in Siena, Italy but that's a story for another time)

Three communities are location-based (Traverse City + the Lakeview and West Garfield Park neighborhoods of Chicago). One is sort of location-based, called "Close to Hope." It's for current Hope College students and alumni. And then Retirement Authors is topic-based, it's for anyone who is retired and now enjoying the great retirement hobby of writing books.

By setting up these local communities, readers who initially come to read one author in, let's say the Traverse City group, can then discover another local author. And another one. It just continues to build from there.

We hope this provided some clarity and we'd love to support you whether you're writing for yourself, for your family, for a community, or maybe all three.

Whatever your arena, we're here to help you start and finish that long overdue book.

Questions? Thoughts? Please don't hesitate to email us at library@longoverduestories.com Would love to hear from you.

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