Monday Notes: 5 Ways to Become a Writer

img_3443Sometimes I jot down a note and it’s very negative. When that happens, I re-focus and make it a positive post, like this one.

***

I’ve written since I was in elementary school, fifth grade to be exact. However, I didn’t consider myself a writer until six years ago. Once I accepted this part of my identity, I started observing and listening to writers and “aspiring” writers. I’ve determined if you want to be a writer, then this is what you’ll have to do:

Start Writing Now that my writing is public knowledge, people confide in me. Cousins, the man at the Florida Writers Association conference, and the woman who asked me to ghostwrite her novel each want to write. But when I ask them what they’ve written so far, the answer is nothing. I advise each of them the same. Start writing. Whether it’s a public blog or a private diary, the first step is to begin.

Make Time to Write I often thought my job was getting in the way of writing. That wasn’t the truth. And because no one was going to offer me more time in the day, I had to shift my priorities. Instead of watching the Today Show every morning, I wrote for two hours. Then, I began my regular day. Where could you shift your priorities so that you can make time to write?

Take Time to Edit After you’ve written something, consider that your first draft. All writers have first drafts, and second, and thirds, and…you get the picture. As a former English teacher, rarely have I seen a masterpiece written in one fell swoop. When you take time to write, that means you might find yourself pondering over the use of the word stroll, saunter, or walk because you know each one of those words will change the connotation and flow of your sentence. So take the time to think about the words you’ve written in a meaningful way.

You Think Your Stories Have Already Been Heard Probably. I mean an infinite number of books have been written and read. But not yours and not the way you can write it. Comments about The Unhappy Wife have validated this concept. Recently, Story Teller Alley approved me to sell my book on their site. One of the reasons it was accepted is because of originality. A reviewer said,

Although stories of unhappy marriages have been told before, because these are all true stories and each person is different, the stories are all different.”

I’m glad the innovation shone through. Sometimes people read the title and assume they know what’s inside. But it’s a false assumption. Likewise, if I would’ve thought these were trite narratives, then I might not have written the book. So my advice? Don’t worry about it. Somebody wants to read it the way you’ve written it.

You’re Worried about What Other People Think If you follow my blog, then you know I write about many things that have happened in my life. Stories include family, friends, and people I barely know. I couldn’t write half of what you read here if I stopped to worry about someone’s hurt feelings and reinvention of history. Initially, an Anne Lamott quote helped me forge ahead with authentic writing, “If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.” That quote changed my entire creative nonfiction writing life. The other part that has helped me write the truth is to separate fact from emotion. For example, it’s a fact that my dad packed up my belongings in the middle of the night while I slept. Consequently, I felt abandoned and pushed aside because of what occurred. Stick to the facts and make clear when you’re describing an emotion.

I hope one of these sparks the writer in you. Trust me. Someone, somewhere is waiting to hear your voice, even if the someone is you.

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94 thoughts on “Monday Notes: 5 Ways to Become a Writer

  1. I need this type reminder. All. The. Time. I think I probably always will. So thanks for being another voice of reason to keep me on the writing path. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Greetings KE

    Thanks for visiting my blog – racismws.com

    I am very much interested in writing fiction and non-fiction and are currently working on a novel (that I’ve been sitting on for years). I see you’ve published your first novel. Congratulations! I will check out the link on Amazon.com

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Such tremendous advice. I have been fighting with myself on a couple of these points so heavily that I’m surprised that Mike Tyson hasn’t shown up to gnaw on my ear. You’re absolutely right though. I need to electronically dog-ear this post (Side note – dog-ears are not book destruction in this house but rather a sign of love – unless it’s not your book, and in that case, it’s just tacky). I also love the Kermit shot. It’s funny to me how the Muppets have always had a magical way of encapsulating such a broad range of our sentiments with the smallest of gestures or comments. High-five on the post, and thank you for it, too. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Excellent advice. Too often in our culture we define success in monetary terms. Only the writer who’s sold a zillion books is considered a success. But if a writer touches a single life, he or she is a success. Even without an audience, the writer who manages to express his/her feelings honestly is a success. So many writers we read and respect were largely unknown in their own lifetimes. That’s overlooked. Wishing you much more success, however you define it, Kathy! ❤

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks Anna! I agree that it would probably be beneficial to redefine “success” to mean whatever we personally desire. That’s one way to ensure happiness no matter what society says. Thanks for the well-wishes.

      Like

  5. I absolutely LOVE this post! I’ve always used my job and not having enough time as an excuse. The truth of the matter is that the conditions will NEVER be perfect. Thanks for the inspiration and extra push Kathy. 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Doc you did THAT with this post!

    I could spend all day responding because what you’ve said is so on point!
    I understand exactly what you mean.

    I’ve always fancied myself a writer. So one day I said to myself, G, if you are a writer then WRITE!

    I mean, was I going to be a writer who never wrote? The ‘writer’ who kept it in her head and took it to her grave?
    WTF is that?
    That’s why I started a blog.
    Oh…
    And
    THIS:
    “If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.”
    I know right?
    I might be wrong but it is my understanding that a person cannot successfully sue you for libel if what you’ve said about them is true.
    Folks need to check themselves.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks chickadee! And absolutely…NO REGRETS!!! That’s how I live too. You might aw well do exactly what you want to do, including write and everything else. Isn’t that quote everything??? I could write an entire post about how that changed my whole outlook. It’s like sometimes we hold on to what others have done to us, even going so far as to implicitly control what and how we write…NOPE.

      You’re absolutely right about that. I looked it up a couple of years ago just to be sure lol

      Liked by 1 person

  7. 1, 2, and 3 haven’t been problems; it’s always 4 and 5, developing a unique voice and writing authentically. In my opinion, those last two are the heart and soul of a story, what makes a person’s writing worth reading. I love the Anne LaMott quote, too, and will remind myself of that when writing the truth is unflattering. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Writing is like mindfulness – the basics take a moment to grasp but a life time to perfect! Thanks for the reminders, especially for the last one.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Thank you for this! I mean most of it I already knew and understood myself. Write, make time, edit. But the last 2 points always stop me somehow. I want to tell certain stories, but think no one will read them or want to hear them because it may be similar to another story. Or not wanting to tell my own story because of not wanting to show friends or family in a negative way, so they aren’t upset with me and people don’t see them as horrible as I’d have to write them out to be. But at the end of the day it’s my story and it’s what happened to me, they can’t be upset about me expressing my feelings and the truth. Maybe it will help them see how badly it affected another, maybe they will know next time not to act that way or say certain things.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re welcome Lee. And thanks for stopping by, reading and commenting 🙂 One piece of advice that I do tell people is that you have to have a purpose for writing it too (if it’s going to be public). For example, I never write about my dad just to complain or vent about him. I always have a purpose to inspire men to think about how they interact with their daughters, or to show daughters how they can one day forgive their fathers. In the process, I’ve found there are sooo many more people who feel exactly as I have, and sometimes it helps them to feel better or interact a little differently. I hope you’ll write for yourself, even if it’s just to get the story out the way you remember it and they way it felt to you ❤

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Of course! Anything I write is to express myself in ways I couldn’t do otherwise. If I tried to speak to them, everything wouldn’t come out that needs to. And also to inspire people or help them if they are going through something similar

        Liked by 1 person

  10. Kathy, I find this post so energising and like a humorous kick to get going.
    Particularly I love your ‘ So very busy and hard working frog’ 😊 . Have watched him two mornings
    now and the laughs it gives me also made me write more.
    We are all unique so it follows that each one has a different story – albeit at times on the same subject.
    miriam

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks Miriam! Kermit, the frog is always funny to watch typing away. Isn’t this how we all envision ourselves once the muse hits lol Love the comment about us all being different, hence having different stories. That’s it in a nutshell 😉

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  11. God, Kathy I love this. Particularly the thing about it being ok to edit …. I’m just getting used to the fact that I can write something then sit with it and watch the new inspirations coming on top of the foundation that I started. It’s like loving expressing itself to me! And what’s neat is that sometimes it really does come out the first time as well. Working on loving all of it. And having some fun too.

    Anyway, thanks again. Love you. Blessings for a great week and everyone who reads your work, Debbie
    ps – tomorrow the Spiritual Director of the org I work for is doing a seminar “Blessings with the Divine Presence” – touches me & wanted to just share the title with you (thought you’d get it)

    Liked by 2 people

    1. You’re so welcome Debbie! To add to the editing part, I think it’s advised to walk away from something you’ve written for a while and then come back with fresh eyes. Somehow the time and space makes it new again.

      Thanks for the positive energy!

      I hope you’ll write about the seminar. That sounds interesting and I’m sure I (and your other bloggers) would want to hear what the takeaways are.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Honest and necessary advice! I started my blog because I was itching to write, but didn’t know what I wanted to write about. My blog has helped me learn my strengths and weaknesses, as well as how people will respond to my work. As for people who are afraid of what others will think, I say, test the waters. That sensitivity is a good part of who you are and is a strength as a writer, but in this case, is holding you back. Don’t let that happen. Even if your story has been told before, someone hasn’t heard it said the way you say it.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. These are great points about learning “how well people will respond” because I think blogging does help with confidence in some ways, which I think some writers begin with on the low part of the scale. That’s so true about telling it anyway because you just never know.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. I think you’ve inspired me. I’ve been writing for a few years, never believed in myself and then came Parkinson’s and blogging. Maybe I can do this! Great post… jc

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Well even us Lion’s have a thorn in the paw but I’m getting this one removed. I am working on a book about my experience with Parkinson’. I have most of it written, about 20 chapters, now I’m starting my first edit. I’ll let you know…

        Liked by 1 person

  14. I love this! I think your point about making time to write is crucial. Life does get busy and there are times when I neglect my blog but if you make time, they’ll always be time. I need to buckle down and actually schedule writing times. Thanks for the post and, as always, for sharing your voice. KG

    Liked by 2 people

    1. KG!!! Glad to see you here 🙂 Yes, time is one of the main challenges I hear people complain about. Scheduled writing times sound like a great idea. Awww…thanks for that bit at the end. I appreciate it 🙂

      Like

  15. Yes! This post was like that Andre3000 line “when I feel washed up and inadequate and throw all my songs away, no matter how mad I get she makes me smile.” SOMETHING like that. Forgive me if you’ve answered this already as I haven’t read the comments, but do you still have those creative lulls + writer’s block where you’re like “f— this!”?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Okay. So I had to Google this song. I don’t know why, but I’ve never been a huge Outkast fan. That is a good line, though and it really describes what I’m saying. I’m not sure if I’ve had writer’s block, as much as I’ve just had to carve out a space to listen for what I’m supposed to write. Does that make sense? For me, it’s more about being in the flow, so if I’m out of the flow, then nothing comes and it’s at that point that I know I need to do something (e.g., meditate, yoga, etc.) so I can hear what I should be saying.

      I hope this isn’t too abstract of an answer.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. It makes perfect sense. How can you create if you don’t set your mind to or give yourself space and time, right. I’m not a writer as much as I am an illustrator.. well, that may be a lie sometimes. But when I want to draw and nothing comes, I’ll go through old sketchbooks, look at photos I’ve saved or watch a fashion show and it’ll often stir something. Then there’s times when I can stop creating. Crazy

        Liked by 2 people

  16. Real good piece, Kathy.

    I’m glad I started writing on a regular basis two years ago. It’s been fun. The thing that gives me the most trouble is coming up with story ideas The story I’ll publish in a day or two is completed. But I’m starting to sweat bullets because I have no idea what I’ll write about for next week!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. lol – so I think one of the best pieces of advice I read about blogging was to have a theme. I know some people don’t like to because it kind of pigeon-holes you and we’re creatives. Who wants to put themselves in a box, right? But once I looked at what most of my writing was (inspirational), then I just stuck with it, and I found that even photography, which I ventured off into, can also be inspirational. Anywho, that might help when it comes to topics.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hi. I kind of like writing about various topics, even though I write about some more than others. Coming up with story ideas has been pretty challenging for me at times, but so far I’ve been able to muddle through!
        In any case, I appreciate your thoughts on the subject. Thanks very much, Kathy.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Good question. I choose to separate it because I want to clearly show that there are things that happened that the person and I cannot argue about. The second part, my emotional truth (although it cannot be argued either) is the impact of what happened. I guess I separate it because usually I’m trying to show how what we do can affect others and usually it’s a little clearer when I begin with facts. Hopefully, this makes sense.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Yes, I get it, but as a reader, it is the emotion that I engage with…which can come through in the way a ‘fact’ is conveyed, tinged with the bias of emotion/memory/life experiences. I personally find it easier to tell a story by connecting with the emotion even though a lot of the time I struggle to get there and can get lost in describing events. Anyway…none of these are rules but a matter of preferences/writing style etc.

        Great snippet of review on your book! Oh, and I love that Annie L quote.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I’m not sure I’m explaining clearly then lol because you’ve read enough of my writing to know it’s emotional (sometimes), so I’m not saying I write devoid of emotion, it’s just for me I begin with the actual facts of the event and then write out from there. Yes, the quote really did change how I write about past events.

        Liked by 1 person

  17. Excellent article, Kathy, with sound advice.

    One of the reasons I balked when my friend, Angela, said that I should write about my life in the convent, was my fear of upsetting the nuns. My convent novel, The Twisted Circle, is now in the final stretch. By September, I plan to start sending it out to potential agents/publishers.

    Liked by 3 people

      1. I know, I know. Eldercare, work, etc…you know the drill. And the “how to” books are opening my eyes VERY wide. I see better now how I will need to approach this business! Knowledge is power!😊

        Liked by 1 person

  18. Oh that last point! Hits me right in the feels! I am constantly worrying about what others will think about my writing. When it gets really bad, I just have to sit back and remind myself that I am writing for me, not for them, and if they don’t like it, it really won’t change how/what I write.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Push, push, push yourself over that fear. It really does not matter much. I’ve also found that sometimes those people never even read what you’ve written and people who can relate are super grateful that you’ve written it.

      Liked by 2 people

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