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!)
5 thoughts on “I am a Writer!”
This is a great post! I’m sorry that you had to quit teaching because of health issues. But, if you think about it, it sort of worked out because now you have more time to work on what you truly love. I love write and I have so many ideas that I would love to share with the world, but I’m still a teenager. I’m putting myself through college and working as well as babysitting…pretty much all the time. It’s very hard to sit down and write something that might get published “someday” when you have to deal with homework and go to work that’s happening “now.” It’s great that you write three pages a day…I’ve tried to do something like that before and it was tough for me because I was so busy. But keep up the good work and good luck! 🙂
Rachel, now is the time of your life you need to keep a journal. Perhaps you could just write a five minute “impression of the day” entry each evening, and then a longer entry on the weekend. You are having so many experiences that will one day make great fodder for your writing. Even if you just put a notebook in your bag and write while waiting for food at a restaurant, or for your bus, or in waiting rooms. There are always minutes to write if you really want to do it. I am so glad I kept all my scraps of writing (journal, fiction, non-fiction, and idea notes) all these years. Good luck!
I actually do keep a journal, but I don’t write in it every night. I only write it in every once in a while. I do a lot of role-playing sites and I count that as my “creativity” for the day. I just need to start writing something that’s going to get me some where in life…and I have finished two novels, but I have to edit them and that’s a real pain.
Very nice piece, Kathryn. What I find remarkable is you don’t dwell on your illness – not in life nor in your writing. Orson Scott Card wrote, “Everybody walks past a thousand story ideas every day. The good writers are the ones who see five or six of them. Most people don’t see any.” Even on those days when you can’t get out and are battling your illness, you see and imagine those five or six. So yes, you ARE a WRITER!
Thanks Marsha! Great quote, especially since I just read his book.
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