Tuesday, December 27, 2011

From the Archive: Things you don't need to be a writer

Originally posted in February 2011.

1. A degree
I have a darling crit partner who gets all down on herself because she doesn't have a degree in literature.  I have two and I can promise you there was no super secret, backroom induction into the writer's club. We read books, we over-analyzed them, and we wrote hundreds of pages explaining them.  But that doesn't mean we're guaranteed to be able to write one.

2. Lots of free time
Perhaps the trend in mom writers has left some believing that you can write a book if you are home all day without a "real job." I've even heard people sigh that they wish they stayed home with the kids so they could write. Are you serious? Have you ever been around two toddlers? My day is spent doing laundry, feeding, cleaning them up, changing diapers, breaking up fights, hitting replay on Harry Potter, keeping my daughter out of the cat food and the litterbox, and sometimes, if I'm lucky, showering. I squeeze writing into the nooks and crannies. Time is only an excuse.

3. Awesome, plot-ridden dreams
It must be nice to dream up bestsellers in your sleep, but my dreams are nowhere near that coherent. Writers since Coleridge have been using the "I had a dream" line and honestly, it's a bit played out, don't you think?

4. To live in the desert
Ok, I can't back this up. Maybe you do have to live in the desert. Will someone enlighten me as to why every new bestseller seems to be coming from AZ and UT? I have a theory that they are less depressed than those of us in the Midwest due to all the sun, and as such don't spend their allotted writing time coping by guzzling coffee and trying to get in the mood.

5. Fancy equipment or programs
About 24 hours after I jotted down the first page of my current WIP, I spilled an entire cup of water on my Mac. May it rest in peace. I wrote the bulk of my WIP during Nano in November on public access library computers in 70 minute segments. No special programs. Just a flash drive and my fingers. On a sidenote, I have developed an almost inhuman ability to block out people watching youtube videos.

There is, in fact, only one thing you can do to be a writer, and the good news is you have complete control over it: write! Yep, its as simple as that. Write...then write some more...go to the bathroom, come back and write. Write about anything, but make sure you do it every day.


  1. Beautiful. Thanks for this, Genn. The only thing that really gets to me personally is the time thing. I need to be able to use my time more efficiently. I have WAY more of it than most people at this point in my life, and I'm still moaning for more time. That's why I plan to stay single. =p

  2. Number 2 is soooo true! My hubs thinks I can get writing done during the day when I have my toddler at home. Ha!

  3. I LOVE this!!

    "Writers since Coleridge have been using the "I had a dream" line and honestly, it's a bit played out, don't you think?"

    All so true.

  4. @Rain - I think there's never enough time, too. I long to be able to write all hours of the day.

    @Melissa - Thankfully, my husband has always understood why I can't work during the day. He might be the only one.

    @Sophia - Next week I'll do a post of what my books would be about if I wrote down my dreams. It should be fairly humorous!

  5. I gave a little yip when I read the part about spilling the water on your Mac, and then I moved my coffee across the table. I think my degrees in theatre and design inform my writing as much as my days in literary analysis. We all bring ourselves to the table no matter what our backgrounds.