I didn’t decide that I wanted to focus on my writing until I was well into grad school. Incidentally, for those of you who don’t know, my graduate degree is in history. I wanted to learn to do better research for my writing but I thought that writing would be my side gig. But it isn’t and that’s great because I love so much about being a writing including…
Reading. One piece of advice that I can’t argue with is that writers should read 50+ pieces of writing in their genre. For me, that would be children’s nonfiction. Or picture books. Or how-tos. Or crafts and activities. But it is just awesome that reading counts as work! Dear Ms. Grau – When you told me to put my book down and take my spelling test because no one would pay me to read. . .
Research. One of the best things about writing is that I get to research topics that I love. This includes ancient cultures, specifically the Maya, history including World War I and World War II, the science of evolution and even popular music. This is why my mom always thought that I should be a writer because I’m curious about so many different things.
Variety. In addition to researching different things, I’ve gotten to do so many different types of writing. I’ve done nonfiction magazine writing for kids, readers theater, how-to articles for my fellow writers, crafts and activities and even science projects for kids, and a wide range of nonfiction for teens and tweens. There are so many different types of writing that I’ve only scratched the surface. I’m left wondering what I’ll have added to my resume in another five years.
Hmm. Maybe the best thing about being a working writer is that I get to do something that I love. And with that – Happy Valentine’s Day.
Last week we had parent teacher conferences. I’d love to say that I behave myself but occasionally I get bored. This normally happens when a teacher is droning on about the importance of writing. Honey, you’re preaching to the choir. I get it. This particular teacher had been discussing the importance of the research paper in his class when he mentioned citations. “Oh, you want MLA. The book I just turned in was in Chicago Manual of Style.” After he asked me what I write, I told him and he looked surprised. “Oh, you’re a real writer.”
Yes, I would seem to be. His response does make me wonder what other types of writers he’s met. I’ve met a wide variety of non-writers including:
“I have a story for you to write.” My personal favorites are the people who want me to pay them for an idea so that I can write it. Honey, I have more ideas than dust bunnies and there are tons of dust bunnies in this house.
One Trick Ponies. These are the people who have one idea and only one idea. They work it and rework it and keep going over it. Unfortunately, they never let it sit while they work on something else so it never gets any better.
When I have time. . . A lot of would-be writers never get around to it because there is always something else to do. Writers have other things to do too. There are dishes in my kitchen sink and I have to rehearse but I have two blog posts to finish so that’s what I’m writing.
Show Me the Money. A lot of people don’t want to go through the effort until they have a check in hand. If you can get that job, go for it but that’s probably only going to happen once you have a reputation as a writer.
In truth, if you want to write you are going to have to make the time and really work at it. Do that and you may manage to make some money at it. But you’ll have plenty of work to do first. For four tips on writing for children, check out my post today at the Muffin.
“It takes as much energy to wish as it does to plan.”
“Success in life is a matter not so much of talent or opportunity as of concentration and perseverance.” C.W. Wendte
If you want to write, if you do write, what writing related gift have you granted yourself? I am cleaning out my office. I actually enjoy being in here now that I don’t have to worry about bumping something and dying in the ensuing avalanche.
I went to the Missouri SCBWI Agent’s Day. I found an agent I’d love to work with as soon as I finish reworking my manuscript.
I just got back from a retreat with Randi Rivers. From Randi, I got some very good tips on how to rework my manuscript.
Giving myself the gift of good writing space and the knowledge and help I need to use it well. That’s my writing gift to me this year.
Sarah Hodon posed an interesting question recently on her blog, “Adventures in Writing.” In a post titled “When Did You Start Taking Yourself Seriously as a Writer,” she pointed out that we can’t expect editors and agents to take us seriously, if we don’t take ourselves seriously.
Do you take yourself seriously as a writer? This can mean:
Having a work area that is yours and yours alone.
Making sure that you get uninterrupted work time — which may mean not answering the phone.
Writing, if not daily, on a regular basis.
Writing while letting your spouse take the kids to soccer.
Taking time to get together with your fellow writers.
Taking advantage of opportunities to improve as a writer — this can mean attending a conference or a critique group.
Introducing yourself as a writer without apologizing in any way, and that includes saying “but I haven’t sold anything yet.”
Do you take yourself seriously as a writer? Sarah’s right. You have to before the rest of the world will do the same.