How to Be a Writer

Write.

If only it was that simple. If only we would let it be that simple.

There are those beautiful, yet elusive, times when both the ideas and the words to convey them come pouring forth. But then there are those times our creativity is balled up in a fist, holding its treasures tightly. As much as we struggle to pry it open one finger at a time, it won’t budge.

Why does this happen?

#1. We get in our own way.

We sit down to write, and we tell ourselves we can’t. As I covered in my Fake News  post, we question our ability to write or we doubt we’ll find an audience.

Or we sit down to write and the only thoughts that come to mind are that we should be doing anything, but sitting down to write. Instead of writing, we’re worrying about what else needs to be done. Tightening that grip on our creativity, until whatever time we’ve allotted for our writing has evaporated.

We need to be mindful that this worrying is what we’re doing instead of writing. By recognizing what our mind is doing, we can begin to put an end to these distractions. When these worries arise, take a deep breath and say, “Not now. I’m writing.” Let go of what else has to be done, and in my experience, the chores (laundry, dirty dishes, balancing the checking account) will always wait for you. You’ve carved out this time to write, so do it. If necessary, schedule time to exclusively worry right before or after you sit down write. Set aside ten minutes to fret and get it out of your system.

#2. We have no ideas.

“If you write what you yourself sincerely think and feel and are interested in . . .you will interest other people.”  ~ Rachel Carson

This is solid advice if we’re concerned about whether we’ll have an audience. Basically Carson is saying if we write it, they will read it. But what if we don’t know what we sincerely think, feel or are interested in? And therefore, we don’t know what to write. We don’t have anything to say. This problem lies outside of our designated writing time. Throughout the day, we are seeing and hearing and experiencing other people’s thoughts, ideas, issues whether it’s through the news, social media feeds or office gossip. We can’t think through all the noise.

We need to have quiet outside of our writing time to notice what we are experiencing about any given situation. So stop multitasking. Turn off the news when you get in the car or cook dinner. Don’t look at your phone while you squeeze in lunch at your desk. And remember all those chores you were worried about? Use them to your advantage by doing those mundane tasks – loading the dishwasher, washing the car, mowing the lawn, without accompaniment. Focus on what you are doing and where you are. Ideas will come and the next time you sit down to write, you’ll know what you sincerely think, feel and are interested in.

2 thoughts on “How to Be a Writer

  1. Debby Rickards September 18, 2017 / 6:01 pm

    I was just talking about this with kids today! I am going to paraphrase this and use this with them — hope you don’t mind!

    • Susan Barr-Toman September 19, 2017 / 6:05 pm

      Great! I hope the kids find it helpful. It works for me.

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