|My ordinary writing space|
To be labelled a writer, all you have to do is write. That's it. Not be published. Not have readership in the hundreds or thousands. A writer is one who writes. But sometimes I think a writer is one who avoids writing at all costs. We all have our reasons. Here are a few of mine:
I feel like I have to have a fully formed story before I can start. I've taken only a few creative writing courses in my day, but I've learned enough to feel like if I don't have the story completely thought out then I have no business starting. That's probably not true. I've heard enough published writers talk about how the story surprised them as they wrote. And I wish I could remember who (Anne Lamont maybe?) but someone once said just to write what you see in a window or something. Pretend the story is moving past your window and write it one scene at a time. If I could convince myself of that, then I truly could no longer use this excuse.
I know I don't edit properly. I've never written a story then gone through the multiple edit process. I edit for gross grammatical errors, but not story errors. Once I write something I'm done. I barely edited Soprano Trouble, which is why I doubt anyone would ever want to buy it. Maybe I just don't have the patience for it. So maybe I have no business calling myself a writer.
Grammar Nazis. I have a few friends who are self-proclaimed grammar nazis, and I love them. And they are super funny on Facebook. But the thought of a grammar nazi picking apart something I've written makes me not want to start writing at all. There are enough critics out there, and writing feels like jumping into a swimming pool full of sharks. My self preservation skills kick in hard core.
I don't have uninterrupted hours to write. I can barely find 15 uninterrupted minutes to write this blog. And usually these blogs take over an hour to write because kids need me multiple times in the middle. Don't longer more serious things like actual stories need longer attention spans than that?
I don't have a beautiful place to write. My laptop is on a tiny corner desk in the kitchen, surrounded by all our house related and school related paperwork and clutter. Two feet away from our kitchen trash can. I don't have a beautiful office like Jen Hatmaker or all the writers who live in the northwest or New England.
Reading. I love to read. It's why I want to write. To create stories that mean as much to others as they do to me. But I can totally get lost in "market research," finding out what is out there in the genre that I'd like to pursue. I can read forever, which takes plenty of time away from writing.
I've taken my first step to combat these by writing in the carpool lane at school pick up. I usually have a good 15 minutes of sitting there, so maybe instead of reading I could write a sentence or two. And maybe those two sentences will become something greater one day. It's a start anyway. And I can call myself a writer because I write those two sentences.
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