How to be a Writer

Quote about writing by Augusten Burroughs

I’ve been a little quiet around here the past few months. Taking it easy. You know how it is. Somehow, now it’s February, it feels like the year has truly begun. I hope your 2020 has started out alright.

I actually started the year with a boost to my creativity and confidence… and a new conviction that I could really do this thing – be a writer. How did this come about, I hear you ask?

Firstly, I just finished a 30 day creative writing boot camp via the Australian Writer’s Centre. From trying different places to write, different times, different word goals and different challenges, I have been practicing, practising, practising!

This led to 25,000 words of a new novel! And a newfound daily writing habit that has pushed me to get those words down, one by one, every day for the past month.

(Yep, sometime over Xmas and the New Year I came up with a new idea, in a different genre too. I’m pretty exited about it. I’ll go back to my other, first novel at some point, but for now this one has me excited. So I’m going to stick with it and see if I can finish a manuscript. For the first time ever.)

I’ve also started listening to Valerie Khoo and Allison Tait’s So You Want To Be A Writer podcast on my way to and from work (and I’ve joined their online community). I’m a casual worker so I get boosted around, and my commute is now thirty-five minutes each way instead of three. I get in a podcast a day (there are plenty of back episodes). I love the feeling of being engaged with others who love writing. I love being inspired.

It feels pretty darn good, all this writing stuff.

Thirdly, I joined a short workshop series here in Perth as part of the Fringe Festival. Hosted by Campbell Jefferys, the writer’s salon covers a few essentials, with practice, over 3 hours on a Sunday morning. In a quaint historical house surrounded by trees. Beautiful. Since DH is currently home, I’ve been leaving the kids with him and commuting an hour up to it once a week. Every time I come home more inspired, more committed and happier than ever.

Historical house
Mattie Furphy House, Swanbourne. Image by E Gill

So even though my first draft is awful (this is true for everyone, right), I’m learning skills and I’m writing and I’m practising every day. Instead of spending hours going over what I’ve already written, I have committed to go back and edit only once the entire first draft is finished.

Because I believe that this time, it’s going to happen.

Which brings me to today. How to be a writer. The answer?

Put one word down in front of another. Just keep doing it. Whether it’s 250 words a day, 500 in 30 minutes (a challenge you can do with friends), or 1,724 per day for FebNoWriMo… Just get in there and do it.

You will never be a writer if you don’t write.

So if I’m quiet, it’s because I’m getting those words down. Anytime, any way I can.

How about you?