Not everyone is born with the talent to write, but it has been said that anyone can become a writer if they are willing to put in the time and effort to skillfully learn the craft. We write because we must and because we have something to say. Writing, like any creative art, illuminates life. Our joy in writing comes through the process of writing itself, but writing is definitely hard work. In a culture where the norm is to receive a scheduled pay check as compensation and validation for their work, writing can be considered nothing more than a pastime; that writing is not a real job. I would challenge these critics to try their own hand at writing a book. Writers are not always motivated by the same things that motivate “normal” people because we see the world through a very different lens. This can often be difficult for others to understand. I don’t know of any writer who became one solely because of the money.
As writers, we need to honor whatever we need to do to keep us mentally, spiritually and physically healthy and productive. By and large, the greatest need we have is for support and encouragement. Ideally, this should begin within the nuclear family. If this is not possible then circles of friends, your writing tribe, teachers, the public, and anyone else who enjoys your writing and believes in your talent can serve this need. When a writer lacks acknowledgement and support they can often doubt that it’s okay to be a writer. Surround yourself with positive support. It will not serve you or your writing to give in to naysayers.
Writers also need a supportive physical environment in which to work. This means a writer must allow themselves freedom from the distractions of unnecessary interruptions. While writing we need our solitude. A writer’s time can be taken up with too many phone calls from time eaters. In addition, writers are often their own worst enemy by giving in to the need to check emails and Facebook frequently. We got along just fine before their appearance in our lives. We need to establish boundaries on distractions.
While absorbed in the process of writing, writers become one with their work. All life around them ceases to be heard, including conversations attempted by those who see you looking in their direction and assume you are listening. They may fail to notice that your eyes are vacant because your right brain has you engaged elsewhere. Writers can be so absorbed that they forget to eat. Needed trips to the bathroom are ignored until one becomes aware that their back molars are floating. It’s not that we need keepers to slip a sandwich under our noses, although that would be nice, but sometimes we do need a partner, friend or an alarm to remind us to get up and move.
Balance between work and play is also a necessity. All work and no play leads eventually to burnout and stale writing. At least once a week plan a fun diversion. Daily exercise is not only good for the body but good for clearing out your head. There is nothing like a walk in fresh air, especially if you’re lucky enough to have a nature trail or a beach where you can walk.
Many a great book has wasted its life waiting in a drawer for its author to overcome their fears behind getting it published. Some writers are even reluctant to put their work out there because they believe their book will only be judged by the quantity of its sales. In a one size fits all mentality, if marketing and publicity is not a writer’s forte, a wonderful book can die on the vine. Don’t let that happen. It is said that our talent is God’s gift to us. Using and sharing it is our gift back to God. According to Julia Cameron, artist and author of the Artist’s Way, “Many blocked people are actually very powerful and creative personalities who have been made to feel guilty about their own strengths and gifts.”
Readers can show their support for an author by letting them know how much they enjoyed reading their book. Make the effort to write a good review. Better yet, if the author has a website or an email address, tell them how much the book meant to you. I promise you it will make their day.
You can keep up with Pat at her author website: http://pjwoodsauthor.com and her blog at her professional editing site: http://bonmotsandprosepublishing.com.