Needing to have a purpose…
I started writing when I was 36 years old. I was a stay-at-home parent with a story bouncing around in my head and writing seemed like an easy hobby. But it wasn’t. I wasn’t a good writer and I needed help. I believed success would come from educating myself about the writing process.
I joined a writing group and attended monthly workshops – and boy did I learn. I was exposed to so many perspectives on writing that I couldn’t keep my head above water.
Writing, it turns out, is many things at the same time and everything came at me all at once. Rudderless in an ocean of thoughts and ideas with a wicked rip-tide my writing floundered. I stopped writing because I was focussed on learning.
Wanting to be the best all the time…
At first, I only wrote for contests or volunteer articles. These were safe toe dips in the water. My novel, my love, was ignored. I daydreamed about the characters but nothing went down on paper. “I’m not ready,” I told myself and others. “I need to learn more before I write my novel.”
And, I was sick of being told to “just keep writing”. That wasn’t helping!
While doing dishes I vented my frustration to my husband by comparing writing to basketball, his sport. “You learn drills,” I whined. “You practice, you’re taught how to dribble and pass and whatever else you do in basketball.”
He nodded dutifully.
“Does your coach say “Just play,” I continued and nailed my point home.
“No,” he said and put dishes into the cupboard.
“No indeed,” I muttered.
I needed to know when waves of insecurity and doubt threatened to drag me back under my knowledge, my rock hard, red life preserver, would help me to resurface and keep my head above water.
Then I found my lighthouse in the form of a library course on outlining. For a linear thinker like me this course felt like a tethered anchor holding me to the shore.
I loved it but it wasn’t a life preserver. It was more like water wings.
I needed more.
I fellow writer recommended the Sarah Selecky’s course to me. I bought the course in September. I visited the site and then I checked my emails. In December I printed off the course. It sat in a manila envelope in a pile of papers. During this time, I also bought a book called How to be a Writer, by Barbara Baig and from time to time I cracked the cover.
Finally getting over myself!
I can’t tell you what propelled me forward but I read the book and I did the course. Both started with freewriting.
Barbara gave me concrete facts about why freewriting strengthens the “creative mind.” Sarah explained that not everything I write would be publishable and neither should it be. Both taught why playing with my writing actually made me a better writer. My shoulders got a good shaking.
Now freewriting feels like floating on waves with my face turned up to the sun.
By the way, I’m an excellent swimmer:)