How to Become a Writer - IWSG

First you notice your mother has a fondness for labeling her children. Your oldest brother is “the brain,” the next is “good at sports,” and she wasn’t able to pin you down until your 6th grade teacher offered her a gem: you have a talent for “creating writing.” It hasn’t been quite a year since your father left and you don’t want to consider bearing such a label, so you don’t. You never write unless you have to and then when it’s time to go to college you draw a blank so you consider majoring in English. You take classes and you find you can write as long as you don’t think about it too much but once you try to edit you lose the thread. Then you discover biology and give up writing altogether.

You get married and have children and sometimes writing nudges you in your dreams. You ask God if it’s okay to write cause you think you need permission and you set out a fleece which is answered with a typewriter. Then you write the most unimaginative drivel until you give up again. You love to read, you always did so all along you’ve been reading and learning even despite yourself. You decide to try again and you write a story and the feeling this gives you is so magical you decide to write another. But after the same dark subject matter shows up in the 4th and 5th stories and you fear that can’t be good so you give up again. But you were bit, the bug got its venom in you and you can’t distinguish your blood from the writing. So you start to read how to books on writing and you discover Natalie Goldberg and you start to write down the bones and you wait until you fill a notebook to go back to read it.

And here’s where the real fun begins. Because in between the random ramblings and whining and wandering thoughts are these lines, they shimmer, they vibrate and you don’t know what to do with them so you collect them, word for word, into another notebook and you name them and you keep doing this until you’ve got about 500. Then you think wow… maybe I’m a poet, so you start to read how to books on poetry, but it doesn’t work, you can’t do it, all you can do is show up at the page and write. You do this for years, starts and stops, workshops and retreats, and reading book after book of poetry and you decide to become a novelist. And you write and write and write and try to figure out how to write a novel and by the time you give up again you realize you can write a poem sometimes, and maybe it’s a real poem. But then you don’t know what a real poem is so you just write whatever it is you write.

And you still can't believe just how good that feels..

Posted for Insecure Writers Support Group</a>