You see this gem in every writing book or magazine available. The first golden rule of writing. Writers write.
But what happens when you go for a period of time without writing. Does this mean you are not a writer? Can only those who are able to dedicate an hour or more each day to the craft be called writers?
A blogging friend of mine wrote a post last month addressing this very question. In Writers Write, Right?, Daphne had the same reservations upon reading this chestnut. She has not written or worked on her manuscript for a few months now. Does this mean she is not a writer?
As a writer with a day job, I know there are times that life gets in the way of my writing. When I do manage to carve out a few hours to write, it can be hard to turn off my brain with everything else and focus on the words. Often, by the time I get home from work during the week, or finish the household chores on the weekend, I am too whipped to write anything worth reading. All I want to do is read a book or take a nap.
I agree with Daphne. Just because we are not writing the next best seller does not mean we are not writers. We are writing blog posts and journal entries. We are reading about craft and networking with other writers. We are learning about author platforms, book formatting, marketing, and the business of publishing. We are mentally working on our stories, or thinking about our next project. And yes, sometimes we are laying on the couch with our nose in a book purely for entertainment. Even then, we are writers. Writers write, but they also read. 🙂
I started this summer with the thought that I would allow myself the month of June after my exam to do nothing that smelled like work. No book work, no brainstorming, nothing. I was going to read for fun and quilt or knit or just veg a bit. I had earned it. Now I find myself beating myself up for wasting time. Where do we learn this!? Where did we learn that any down time should be filled with creative pursuits and there should be no lolling around wallowing in books?
The work of publishing has required a lot of learning too. This is not a hobby for the faint of heart. There is a huge learning curve if you want to do it write and not just hit the “publish” button on Amazon and call it done. And I do want to do it right. There have been other set backs that I am working through that have taken time and patience.
I further depressed myself by reading what was meant to be an inspirational chapter in Glimmer Train Guide to Writing Fiction, Volume 2: Inspiration and Discipline. There is a chapter dedicated to brief interviews with published authors asking when they started writing or knew they wanted to write. These folks were all writing stories at 4 and practically published at 7! Now, I know that is probably a bit of an exaggeration, but that is something you hear a lot, too. That this famous author or that debut author knew in the womb that this was their destiny and came into the world with a first draft all ready to go as soon as they figured out how to type. This was not the case with me. And I am sure it is not the case with many writers.
A great article appeared in The Writer this month, called “Own It.” It discussed this very thing – owning our writing process regardless of where we are in our journey. It didn’t prescribe to my typical reaction to a writing slump where I let my inner critic beat the crap out of my inner writer until I get back to work. It mentioned the Budhist belief of becoming our thoughts and that helped me remember to only put positive vibes out into the universe. No self-torture, and above all, no name-calling! Embrace your inner writer, no matter what phase you are going through.
So tell me how you do it?
Are you a writer with a day job?
How do you find the time and energy to pursue your writing?
When did you know you wanted to be a writer?