I have always dreamed of being a writer. When I had to stop teaching due to health issues in January 2010, I realized I could give up and watch daytime TV the rest of my life, or I could attempt to fulfill my dream. Daytime TV is even more depressing than my health issues, so for my sanity I chose the second option.
“If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.” ~~Stephen King
Reading is my default position, so the first logical step was to read about writing. I found a number of very helpful books, which I recommend to anyone who is interested in writing:
- On Writing by Stephen King,
- The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron,
- Writing a Novel by Nigel Watts,
- Making a Literary Life by Carolyn See,
- …and biographies, memoirs, articles, and websites by every author you love and many you don’t even know.
What I learned from all this research is that there are as many ways to be a writer as there are writers. Some are disciplined and approach writing as a forty-hour a week job, whereas others write when the muse inspires. Offices can be anywhere: the spare bedroom, the kitchen table, the library, public transportation, a park bench, a bar, or a coffee shop. Some writers work without distractions, while others write around occupations, family, children, or illness. Some like the act of writing, while others only like being finished with the writing. Some write in isolation, and others join guilds, critique groups, associations, retreats, residencies, and internet pages. Some are published, and many dream of being published. Many argue that if one writes, he is a writer. Just as many believe one can’t be called a writer until the work is published.
What does my writing life look like?
- I read a lot. My goal is a book a week, but that does not include magazines, research, blogs, or websites—all of which I read daily. Check out my Goodreads.com link to the right.
- I write my “three pages” almost daily, which is the longhand journaling and brain-dump similar to Julia Cameron’s “Morning Pages.” (With all due respect to Ms. Cameron and all I’ve learned from her books, I am not a morning person.) I write for this blog, I Facebook and Tweet, I keep running notes on the book I plan to write about Gizmo, I write lesson plans for my son whom I home-school and lesson plans for the Bible study I teach on Wednesday nights, I write flash fiction when the muse hits, and I write scenes for my mystery novel whenever I can get two quiet and healthy hours to converge.
- I imagine scenes and work out plot points in my head when the back pain or migraines do not allow me to actually write. I have found that imagination serves as a form of pain management.
- I work wherever I can: at my desk, at the kitchen table, in the lounge chair or couch, at the library, at restaurants and coffee shops, in the car, and waiting at bus stations.
- I like writing, but even more so, I like the feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction I get from reading a well written finished piece.
- I participate in a Writers’ Guild, attend Mystery Writers of America meetings, Facebook with other writers, participate in online literary and writers’ groups, and get feedback from other writers. I dream of being a “writer in residence” or writing in an artists’ colony.
- I learn everything I can about the craft and art of writing in every way I can think of. I learn about the subjects I write about, utilizing the research techniques I learned while in graduate school.
I am a writer because I write. I am a writer because my work has been published. I am a writer because my head can’t contain my imagination. I am a writer because I love to share what I have learned. Most importantly, I am a writer because I cannot imagine living without writing.
If you are a writer, I would love to learn how you live the writers’ life. Please share in the comment box by clicking the comment bubble to the right of this post’s title. (And, if you can tell me how to change that comment bubble into a reply box below my post, I would be grateful!)