Musings: On Being a Writer

Today’s topic is: “When did you first realize you were a writer?”

Ugh, I don’t like something about this question, but I’ll try to answer it anyway.

I’m not sure there was an aha moment when I realized that I was a writer. A couple of years ago, I was skimming through my archived blog posts looking for a cinnamon roll recipe that my husband wanted me to remake. I paused long enough to reread one of my entries and was surprised by how clear it was and how witty I had been. For several moments, I didn’t believe that I had written it.

By blogging regularly for the last five years, I suppose I am considered a writer now. However, I think that being a writer is really about enjoying the act of writing. For me, the process of writing is like creating individual puzzle pieces and then trying to arrange them in a way that forms a clear picture in the mind of my reader.

Puzzle (voicesofyouth.org)

I haven’t always liked to write. In fact, while video-chatting with my mom a few days ago, she showed me a notebook from my sophomore year of high school. In the notebook, she had written some advice about how to write an essay. (I had a new English teacher who incorrectly assumed that we had been taught the basics of writing during our freshman year.) My mom recommended first sketching out an outline of ideas, then filling in the details, and finally undergoing multiple rounds of rereading and revising. It was a rough time for me (and my mom, I bet) but I eventually figured it out. (And it turns out that is the same process they currently teach in beginning writer’s workshops! Way to go, mom!)

While I loathed writing assignments in high school, since then, the act of writing has become a source of joy for me. In fact, since the launch of this blog last month, I’ve been writing late into the evenings, forgoing sleep, because I’m having such a great time sharing these Musings with my readers.

In my limited free time, when I’m not writing, I’ve been reading books about writing. My favorite so far is Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott, although she talks about having paralytic self-criticism which, thankfully, I haven’t experienced yet. (But maybe I should?!) I heard that Stephen King’s book On Writing is very good and I’d also like to read Ray Bradbury’s Zen in the Art of Writing. My sister swears by the creativity-boosting methods discussed in The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. There simply isn’t enough time in the day (or night)!

 

Can you recommend a good book about writing?  Let me know in the comments.

~ Phoebe DeCook

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