The Practice of Being a Writer

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Often I meet people who tell me that they have had a story idea for some time.  Or, they tell me that others suggest that they write a book.  My contention is that everyone can be a writer, because everyone has a story to tell.  But, having a story to tell and being a writer are not synonymous.  We all have a story, but getting it written is another matter.  I believe everyone is capable of writing that story.  But I also realize that everyone does not know it.  Perhaps faith or confidence or discipline is lacking.  Possibly what is also missing is a process for getting started.

When I read Julia Cameron’s groundbreaking book The Artist’s Way one of the first things I learned is how to form the discipline of writing.  The lesson was simple: You do it every day.  Ms. Cameron created a simple method to make this happen.  She called it her “morning pages” and encouraged the reader to write whatever was on her mind every morning before the day’s agenda got started and took over.  It was a peculiar thing to learn to do this. To write before getting ready for work.  To write before eating breakfast.  To write before reading emails or making phone calls.  And to get up an hour earlier if necessary to make it happen.  However, because this book resonated with me, I did what it instructed me to do.

In the book Ms. Cameron teaches us to write “longhand”  as opposed to writing on the computer.  To paraphrase her, there was “magic” in making that physical connection between your brain and hand, and she was right.  That is how I wrote my first three books.  I would write out a portion by hand first, type it on the computer, and later edit it on the computer.  I did this a section at a time.  When I began to write the sequel (book 5) to my novel, VANESSA – a Love Story (book 4),  I would write much of it on my new I-Pad.  This process was very different and the feeling I had in writing it was very different as well.  Which do I like better?  Good question.  I am aware of the positive and negative aspects of both.

The question remains – do you want flexibility in writing?  To gain more competence in writing?  To be able to write about anything at anytime without difficulty?  Then you are ready to begin the journaling process.  It would also be wise to get one of Ms. Cameron’s books.  My favorite two are The Artist’s Way and The Right to Write.  One more thing – if you are waiting to take the right class with the right instructor – don’t.  Although I have had the experience of working with a phenomenal creative writing instructor, please keep in mind that not every teacher makes a good teacher in a creativity course, which of course, is what creative writing is.  Should you go this route,  be willing to ask some questions:  How many of their students have gone on to write anything?  Are published?  Can the instructor effectively teach various genres – fiction, non-fiction, poetry, etc.?  And most important – when you are in the class are you being empowered as writer?