Hear Ye! Hear Ye! I am deliberately, and with significant forethought, declaring 2014 to be ‘The Year of the Author’! Who am I to have the authority to make such a declaration??? Well, for starters, I am an author, and who better to declare that this is my year than I? But I am not simply an author; I am also a writing teacher, an editor, a publisher, a journalist, a columnist, a poet, an essayist …. One might say that I have worn all the various hats of the writing world at one time or another, and I am currently seeing the doors opening to one of the most exciting era’s of writing the world has known since the invention of the printing press.
Unfortunately, I am also seeing and talking with many writers who have been through an extremely discouraging year and who are about to lose their vision and the thrill of writing. This article, then is the first in a three-part inspirational series on writing and publishing that I hope will renew that vision and that thrill. I am not trying to cover all the bases or give a seriously academic lecture. Nor am I going to post long lists of sites to contact. You are very capable of going online and finding information for yourself. I am merely wanting to light a fire and create a beacon at the beginning of this magnificent year that lies ahead of us. I want to stir up the author in you to come forth and make his voice heard — loud and strong — this year!
PART 1: SO YOU WANT TO BE A WRITER
(This first article is a re-post of a portion of my writing curriculum Releasing the Creative Writer in You. I posted it on here about a year ago, but I hope it will stir you once again to move forward in your own writing.)
So you want to be a writer? Then DO IT!
Mystery author Agatha Christie once said, “The best time for planning a book is while you’re doing the dishes.” There’s a lot of wisdom in that statement.
You know, you don’t have to live a weird life — or even a particularly exciting life — to be a great author. In fact you can live a very ordinary, chicken-frying, auto-repairing, laundry-washing, diaper-changing kind of life and still write books that will lift people out of the ordinary and into a place where imaginations rise to peak places, where new dreams are ignited, and where hope and faith bring victory into life’s struggles.
So pick up that pen, sit down to that computer keyboard, or start dictating into that recorder — whatever method works for you. If you’re sure you want to write, START WRITING.
Now that you’ve started, you come to your next decision. Do you want to be an “occasional writer” – sharing an idea or a complaint only now and then – when the mood strikes you? Or do you want to be a “serious writer” – making writing one of your primary goals in life and, therefore, at the top of your list of priorities.? If your answer is the first option, then you are free to write or not, depending on how you feel on any particular day. However, even in that situation, the more you write, the better you will be at it when you feel it counts.
But if you are serious about writing – if you feel it is a necessary part of your feeling successful in your life – then you must live by a different law: You must commit to writing on a regular basis and stick with the program, regardless of how you feel on any particular day – or how anyone else feels about your work.
Unfortunately, this decision to be a serious writer must be made anew every few days. The “new” wears off after a while. The excitement turns to frustration after several days of reaching for just the write words and falling short time after time. The bright ideas seem to fade a little when the family and friends don’t find your first chapter exciting enough to want to listen to you talk about it for three hours non-stop. But if you really do want to write, you must make yourself write faithfully and regularly, regardless of the struggles involved. If you sit at your keyboard three hours and type onto the screen only one sentence worth keeping, you have accomplished writing a sentence that never existed before.
And therein lies the intrinsic value of writing. Everyone who writes becomes a creator. Once you have written an original piece – no matter how small or how large – you have created something that never before existed! That fact is not dependent upon whether anyone else reads it. Or whether anyone else likes it if they do read it. The proof of your creativity does not rest in your work’s boasting a publisher’s imprint or finding a place on a bookstore shelf. Get this straight: once you have written an original piece, you have created an entity that never before existed. I repeat that point because it is a powerful reality that very few writers recognize.
And another related fact that many unpublished writers seem to miss is that once you have created a written product, you are a writer. You’re not “going to be” a writer. You’re not a “would-be” writer. You’re not an “aspiring” writer. You are a writer. You are an author. You are a creator. When you do recognize these two truth, they will empower you to keep creating and to create even more effectively.
Also, once you recognize them, you will come to realize a third truth that is just as important: As a writer, you have a heavy responsibility to your readers. From the moment an individual picks up your work and reads the first sentence, you begin to influence that person – for good or evil. And the more of your work people read, the greater your influence grows.
So it is important to remember that, although you may feel you are writing for yourself, if you intend to allow your work to be read by anyone else at all, you are responsible for what that work does to influence that reader. There is a passage in the Bible, Luke 12:48, that says, “For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required.”
Although the statement is found within the pages of Scripture, it is a truth outside of those pages as well. One does not have to be of the Christian faith to recognize the validity of the point being made. In accordance with that law of life, when we are endowed with the powerful gifts and talents that allow us to create through the written word, we then become accountable for what we do with that word.*
We’ll talk just a little more about that point later, but for now, let’s turn to Part II of this series — “Get It Out There!” — coming up in my next post.
*(Releasing the Creative Writer in You © 2013 Sandra Conner)