What I Know About Writing

Something you might not know is that I actually went to college for writing. My aunt gave me a journal for my tenth birthday. It was yellow with little blue flowers on it. I don’t know what prompted her to pick that gift for me, but she’s always had an odd all-knowing sense about me. The rest, as they say, is history.

It took me longer than I care to admit to realize that writing was a talent. Because I’ve always done it, and I’ve always wanted to do it, I didn’t realize that not everyone has that urge, that craving to write.

Much like the urge to pee, it can’t be ignored. When it hits, I have to do it. Whether in a notebook, on a scrap of paper, or tapping away on a computer, come hell or high water, I’ve written nearly every day since that day I got my first journal.

One blog, one book, and a million false starts later, I have some thoughts to share with you.

You just have to sit down and start.

If I actually wrote as often as I think about writing, I’d be a world famous writer on a fancy book tour already. The truth is, I agonize over finding time, making time, being in the mood more than I actually just sit down and write. I’ve come to find that if you just sit down, eliminate the distractions, once you’re doing it, it comes to you.

It’s not as glamorous as people make it out to be.

I like the cafe-writing-lifestyle as much as the next girl, but most of the time it looks nothing like that. More often than not, I’m sitting with unwashed hair in mis-matched pajamas staring bleary-eyed at a computer screen for hours only to delete every word I wrote the next day.

Everyone does it differently.

The number one question I got asked after publishing Yeah, maybe was how I did it. I had people sending me their outlines, their ideas, etc, looking for approval and validation. And I told every single person the exact same thing: I can’t tell you how to do this. You have to do it whatever way feels right to you. If sitting down and outlining every chapter feels right, then do it. If developing your characters is all you need, do that. For me, all I did was create the town, the school, and the characters. I had literally no idea where the book would take me. I just put the characters into the world I created, sat down every week (I wrote a chapter a week), and let them take me wherever they wanted to go.

A first draft is just telling yourself the story.

At least it was for me. Like I said, I just created the people and the place and let them run rampant. It was really freeing to know that everything I wrote didn’t have to stay. Sometimes after writing something, I’d feel it in my gut that it wasn’t right. It taught me a lot about who I wanted my characters to be and how they actually behaved.

Insecurity doesn’t go away after publishing.

At least it didn’t for me. I spent a lot of time waiting for validation as a writer. Waiting for that one moment when there was a clear definitive answer, a before and after. I wasn’t a writer and now I am. It never came. It doesn’t matter what degree I have, how many blog posts I write, how many articles I contribute or how many books I publish, I’ve come to accept that there is no clear before and after with art. The clarity and validation looks and feels different for everyone.
The one overarching truth I’ve found in the writing world is that everyone is different. Lean inside yourself, find your voice and use it. 

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9 Comments

  1. Jo Ann Sauter

    June 23, 2016 at 1:17 pm

    I'm so thrilled that this one little gift turned into something so meaningful. This journal is a treasured memory for you and for me. I look forward to all the stories it prompts. With love, Aunt Jo Ann

  2. Nadine Lynn

    June 23, 2016 at 3:06 pm

    I think that the key to any hobby or passion is that you have to just do it. You have to start. For whatever reason, starting is the scary part.

  3. The Girl who Loved to Write

    June 23, 2016 at 5:29 pm

    "The first draft is just telling yourself the story." YOU ARE A QUEEN. Such a good way of phrasing that!

  4. Jen

    June 23, 2016 at 9:33 pm

    The last one is so true! Insecurity is always there.

  5. Micah

    June 23, 2016 at 10:03 pm

    Nailed it. This is exactly what writing is.

  6. Myra

    June 24, 2016 at 9:13 am

    I don't know how you writers do it! Y'all are some seriously amazing folks. I think writing my blog is hard sometimes, so there's that 😉 lol! xoxox

  7. Kristina @ Medicine and Manicures

    June 24, 2016 at 7:18 pm

    SO so glad you're doing what you love now. Keep it up!!

    xo, Kristina
    Medicine & Manicures

  8. runwright

    June 27, 2016 at 8:31 pm

    I enjoyed the honesty and frankness of this post. Writing a novel sometimes sounds like such a cosmopolitan thing to do, but a lot of it is getting out of bed to record an idea that just hit, scribbling it on the closest thing you can find, with your hair wild and stuck to your cheek and dried bits in the corner of your eyes.
    Not glamorous at all. But so worth it when you're done.
    http://Runwright.net

  9. Torrie

    June 28, 2016 at 2:44 am

    I love your last thought especially–it reminded me of something I read in Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird that basically expressed the same sentiment. As an unpublished writer myself, I know I sometimes fall into that trap of thinking that I'll finally feel validated about all my work (and especially all the time I've put into it) only once I'm published. But when I actually (finally!) set the goal to write up the first draft of my novel this year, I had to just ease off the pressure of publication and tell myself that I was just going to write it for me. Do I still want it to get published? Sure. But I've got to do it for ME first before I start worrying about seeking validation elsewhere.

    Hope that made sense.

    Anyway, loved this post!

    http://autodidacticambitions.blogspot.com

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