DeAnn Campbell writes beautifully. She is a wife, a mom and has her own blog, too. Read more about her at http://whirligigdaisy.blogspot.com/
I’m a writer.
I’m a wannabe. I’m a wannabe writer. I’m a writer.
I’ve heard Carol Lynch Williams say it: “A writer writes.”
That’s it. That’s what it takes to be a writer.
Seems easy write? Right?
It has never been easy for me. Even though it’s what I want to do, even though it’s what I want to be. It is hard to think of myself as a writer. And it is hard to write. I wish it were easy. I meet people who say they must write in the same way they need air, and water and sleep and chocolate. I’m not one of those people. I don’t have to write, I just want to.
The fabulous Sara Zarr recently gave the keynote at the annual SCBWI conference on “Crafting a Creative Life.” One piece of advice she had was to “seek mentoring and be a mentor.” I feel lucky to have several people that I adore and respect who ask about and foster my writing. One of these people recently volunteered to be my personal mentor. I mentioned to Carol how this was helping me and she asked me to talk a little about it here on Throwing Up Words. Now first, I think a mentor can offer different things to different people. What you need from a mentor or what you can offer someone else as a mentor might depend from one situation to another or where in the writing/publishing process you are. That said it is always helpful to learn from those who have already gone through the process of writing and publishing.
For me, the best thing that having a mentor has done for me is that this person has made me accountable. It can be difficult to work away on (in my case, a novel) and watch the word count climb and then shrink again and nobody knows it but me. (Isn’t that line from a song?)
One thing my mentor did was to ask me to email a daily word count, a record of what I’d produced that day. This might not be what you need from a mentor, but I did. I needed someone to know that I was producing something—or not. I needed someone who would be disappointed in me when I didn’t write. I needed someone who would even call me out if I let too many days slip without working on my perpetual work-in-progress. I needed someone to trust in me: to trust that I can do it and to, when needed, offer encouragement.
This is different than having a writer’s group. So far, my mentor has read little of my novel and that’s OK. I’m trusting that I can write it. Personally, I needed to step back from wanting and needing constant reader feedback. It feels like my novel now and that is a good feeling. Its strengths and weaknesses are mine to flush out. I have to believe in myself and trust my instincts as a writer.
I am a swimmer. Really, I am.
I consider myself a swimmer. I swim laps about once a week, sometimes more.
I write more often than I swim.
Does that make me a writer?
“A writer writes,” says Carol.
So then, yes.
I am a writer.