A few thoughts on being a writer

July 24, 2011

They’re random, the items on this list. But I’m random. And random writing about writing is a good thing…right?


Here goes…

If you like to write, and you occasionally do write, I say you can call yourself a writer. You don’t have to complete a marathon to call yourself a runner or get through all the American classics to call yourself a reader, so why do you have to be paid to write or have published a book to be considered a writer?

If you love it, go for it. Give yourself the title.

I am.

Most of the moments you sit down and want to write, you won’t be able to. Most of the moments that the words come easily, you won’t be in front of a computer or near your notebook. In other words, you can’t plan your moments of productive writing.

Don’t let it concern you that you can’t turn the words on at will. Adapt. Embrace the moments that the faucet does turn on.

I “wrote” the majority of this post while out running in the 95 degree July heat. I was overheating, decided I better stop running lest I pass out, was bored with the 2+ miles I still had to walk home, started daydreaming, and out it flowed. I am now drafting/recording this post, and notes on a couple others, while collecting a pile of sweat on the dining room floor. Not really what I planned to do, but at least I’m writing.

Don’t limit yourself. One time, while recording a few things in my notebook about six months ago, I looked down and the words I’d scrawled on the page halfway resembled a poem. I was shocked. Poetry?! Seriously? I have never, ever read poetry, let alone written it. What the heck is this? I almost scribbled it out, but decided at the last minute to leave it, and I’m glad I did. Since removing the personal stigma that “I don’t do poetry,” a few dozen more poem-like pieces have come out of me. Whatever. It is what it is and I’m not going to fight it. Writing is writing, even if it’s not what you expect.

The notebook helps. The notebook is essential. If I didn’t have it, nine-tenths of the things I write, wouldn’t be. They would have been forgotten; the moment passed, the opportunity lost. I’ve found that even the simplest one or two sentences can serve as a reminder and spark the memory of the larger thought I had earlier, so I can sit down at my convenience and expand on it. The notebook is with me always. Always always always.

A notebook doesn’t have to be a notebook. A voice recorder would work fine. The memo function on your cell phone. The back of your hand. Whatever.

A physical, made-of-paper notebook has legacy, though. I think you know where my vote lies.

Just sayin’.

Writing forces me to observe the world around me in a totally different way. Perhaps because writing about something is essentially expanding on a simple thing, which requires more astute observation on, well, simple things?


Embrace your inner monologue. The more I write, the more it talks. By listening to it, I feed it, and I keep it going. The more it goes the more easily I write. Around and around it goes. Stop feeding it and the writing voice is gone, along with the majority of my creativity. If it starts rambling at inopportune times, the notebook comes in handy to record the subject matter so I can satisfy it, but still get on with what I was doing in the first place.

Good writing doesn’t have to be good writing, it just has to be you. Just because it’s your best writing, doesn’t make it good. Just because the writing is good, doesn’t mean it’s your best. Or that it’s you.

And that’s ok.

The more you read, the better you’ll write. I learn something about vocabulary and grammar and style, my voice and my interests and my purpose, every time I read.

Writing rocks. I heard it from you first.

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