Over the centuries, many myths and mysteries have been applied to the writing practice, with most being simply ridiculous.
I have always been a complex person who chooses to do things simply. It makes sense to me. Why complicate an already complicated world? Simplicity is the answer for me.
Most new writers seem to want to make the mastery of writing into a mystery, and it isn’t. You aren’t channeling the long-dead. You aren’t collecting gamma rays from another planet. You are practicing a skill, a mastery of words, an application of grammar, and using your imagination (that you either have or don’t).
Most new writers are cruel to themselves; they cast shame on themselves because they didn’t write that day, or they didn’t make the word count, or they didn’t get accepted by the publisher, or they can’t be flexible and balance writing and life. They often punish themselves with words like, “I can’t do this.” “This is too hard.” “I will never finish this.” or “No one will like this.”
Stop doing that. Using your creativity or imagination for the negative prevents you from accomplishing anything positive. Remember, every time you write, you are practicing your skills; you are getting better with every word and thought. If you realize this simple truth, you will start to believe in yourself. Every time you sit down and write, it should be recognized as an opportunity for growth. Your life, on your terms, is the goal, not a single word, article, or book; it is the accumulation of your work and your chosen life. Don’t let the small stuff get in the way of the big stuff, or you will never move forward.
Now, I must be honest. Magic, myth, and mystery play a role in the writing practice, and that is where and how you find your inspiration. Inspiration is the “breathing in” of life, and all that is God around and in you. Inspiration is a flutter, like a baby's first movements in a mother’s womb, not missed if you haven’t felt it, but never forgotten once it is known.
Inspiration is all around you. If you have trouble finding that inspiration, give yourself the gift of going out to find it; call it research. What makes you happy? When are you happy? What does happiness look like to you? What colors are happy to you? These things seem ridiculous to some, but take a minute and think and feel. This is your life, and a writer should understand themself first before they give birth to characters. Take time to find your inspiration; if you discover that for yourself, you will not have to worry about copying other authors’ writing styles. That will only make you a second-best them. As an inspired author, you want to be the first-best you.
Find your writing lifestyle. Find your inspiration. Don’t take something this magnificently positive and make it negative. Don’t carry shame or guilt or beat yourself up for not reaching a particular goal. See each word written as a gift of sharing, and you are the creator, birthing each work at just the right time, in its own time.
There is no real magic to writing. There is just you, the writer.
A career in writing might be hazardous to your health. That’s right, down-right, hazardous. Just like anything else in your writing life, you must be self-disciplined and aware and apply that skill to everything in your life, including your health.
Writers often find themselves sitting for long stretches of time, either researching, reading, or writing. Sitting stationary, in a dream of muses, forgetting about the clock, and often sitting in one position for hours.
That is why a daily exercise routine is essential to the longevity of a writer. It is important to your back and spine that you stretch every day and keep limber. If you don’t, within just a few ten-hour sitting/writing days, your muscles become sore and your spine stiff. You don’t need arthritis of the spine to make yourself too miserable to sit and write.
Try to walk every day; I don’t mean you need to spend your time on a two-hour walk, but get up and move your body for at least twenty minutes a day. If it is too cold or rainy to walk where you live, you need to invest in a treadmill or a walking DVD. It is also essential for your heart and digestive tract to do this.
Lots of authors I know complain about digestive and stomach problems, especially if they are over thirty-five. Walk, walk, walk before you sit, sit, sit, all day.
Make sure you are eating semi-light but nutritious meals. I know you have heard this a million times, everywhere. But really, you need to feed your brain and keep your blood sugar balanced because if you don’t, it affects your ability to concentrate and stay focused on your project.
Also, we all know the stories about the large amounts of alcohol/drugs some authors supposedly consume. Well, in this day and age, most authors I know keep their alcohol consumption to non-work days and write with a clear head and clear thoughts.
Just beware, this is your health that is at stake, and if you want to live long enough to enjoy the accolades of a “Great American Author.” Use your self-discipline, not just to write but also to take care of your health.
NOT JUST YOU - BUT THE READER TOO
WRITING IS A PROFESSION THAT, AT FIRST, APPEARS SELF-SERVING. THE WRITER WRITES WHAT IS ON THEIR MIND. WHAT THEY WANT TO WRITE ABOUT, AND ONLY WHAT THEY THINK IS WORTH WRITING... WELL, IS THAT THE TRUTH?
NOT REALLY, A WRITER IS NOTHING WITHOUT A READER. A READER WHO IS INTERESTED IN WHAT THE WRITER IS SHARING AND THE WAY IT IS SHARED. SO, IN OTHER WORDS, A WRITER IS NOTHING WITHOUT THE READER BEING KEPT IN MIND ALONG THE WHOLE PATH OF CREATIVITY.
A WRITER IS FAR FROM SELF-SERVING. A WRITER IS ACTUALLY THERE TO SERVE THE READER BY GUIDING THE READER'S THOUGHTS AND IMAGINATION. TARGETING A FOCUSED IDEA (THE WRITERS) THAT WILL HELP TEACH, GUIDE, AND OPEN THE READER'S MIND.
THE WRITER MUST THINK ABOUT WHAT THEY WANT TO SHARE, BUT THEY SHOULD ALSO ASK THEMSELVES, “WHY?”
BEFORE I WRITE AN ARTICLE OR A BOOK, I ALWAYS ASK MYSELF WHAT IS THE POINT? WHO WOULD WANT TO READ THIS? WHY WOULD THEY WANT TO READ THIS? WILL IT TEACH, SHARE, OR GUIDE THE READER TO A DIFFERENT PLACE OR UNDERSTANDING?
A WRITER AND A READER SHOULD BE PARTNERS IN EVERY WRITTEN ADVENTURE. WHAT WORTH IS THERE TO THE WRITTEN WORD IF IT ISN’T READ? WHAT WORTH IS THE WRITTEN WORD (UNLESS IT IS THERAPY) IF NO ONE CARES WHAT YOU WRITE?
WRITERS NEED READERS AS MUCH AS READERS NEED WRITERS. WRITERS NEED TO UNDERSTAND THEIR AUDIENCE. WHO THEY ARE. WHAT THEY ARE LOOKING FOR. WHAT ARE THEIR NEEDS? ONCE THIS IS PROPERLY THOUGHT OUT, THE WRITER CAN CREATE A TARGETED PIECE OF INFORMATION WITH CONFIDENCE, TRUSTING THE AUDIENCE TO BE SMART AND FORGIVING ENOUGH TO ACCEPT OUR HONEST WORDS FROM THE HEART.
WHAT YOU SHOULD WONDER ABOUT YOUR AUDIENCE...
1. HOW OLD IS YOUR READERSHIP?
2. WHERE DO THEY LIVE? IN A RURAL SETTING OR A CITY?
3. WHAT GENDER?
4. WHAT SOCIO-ECONOMIC LEVEL?
5. WHO ARE THEY? THEIR JOBS? ARE THEY RETIRED OR TOO YOUNG TO WORK?
6. WHEN AND WHERE WILL THEY READ YOUR ARTICLE, STORY, BOOK? AT WORK? ON A BUS? AT SCHOOL? SNUGGLED UP IN THEIR BEDS?
7. WHY DOES YOUR WRITING CHANGE THEIR LIVES? WHY DO THEY CARE ABOUT YOU AND YOUR WRITING?
8. WHY DO YOU WANT TO WRITE ABOUT YOUR CHOSEN SUBJECT? WHAT IS THE POINT?
WHEN YOU WRITE, WRITE FOR A REASON, IT IS TIME CONSUMING, IT IS WORK. HOWEVER, NEVER FORGET, NO MATTER WHAT YOU WRITE THAT YOU ALWAYS MUST KEEP YOUR READER IN MIND.
The See Within
Janie Lynn Panagopoulos
Imagine for a moment we, as writers are made of two rhythms. One breathes in and becomes inspired. The other breathes out - and becomes the inspiration.
The writer breathes in and is inspired by creativity and imagination that is all around us; we can see it within. As we breathe out, the reader breathes in our inspiration, creativity, and imagination and becomes inspired. Our gift to the reader. The writer reflects on the reader's reactions. One feels while the other interprets.
As writers, we learn to balance these two rhythms by using our senses, sensing the world both from the outside in observation and from the inside in emotions, spirit, and passion.
Life as a writer constantly changes like a Sea within. To see writing from the inside out. To see what everyone sees but to see it differently. The sea within, our inner world, is borderless, moving, gathering, connecting, creating a world to see, feel, and imagine.
The sea within flows and is as individual to the writer as it is to know oneself, to see within. To know oneself allows the writer to stand in other's shoes, to create life in characters, and to share knowledge and secrets. This sea within is the foundation of the writer's life to see.
Having a purpose to write deletes the lost sense of randomness in life. It gives our stories depth and recognition. If I have a purpose to write, it will not be something else that gives me purpose, but it is me looking at myself as the purpose - to see.
To see the writer's sea from the inside out requires a strong inner compass in our ever-changing world. For this, we need our North Star to give us direction; we need our families, teachers, and friends. These things help us stay afloat and keep direction, allowing us to breathe in, become inspired, and breathe out inspiration for others, to feel the rolling of our waves of emotions, and to create and interpret spirit and passion.
Writers swim in your sea of imagination, attend to your purpose, tap into your inner being, and see as no one else has seen before.
Copyright 2017 Janie Lynn Panagopoulos
I have had people over the years ask me what it is like to be a writer. I always find that question interesting because I don’t think about it; being a writer is just who I am. I think I was born to write. I know I was born to tell stories.
My third-grade teacher, Mrs. Richardson, pushed me into writing with the threat, “Put your ideas on paper and stop disrupting my class, or you’re gonna spend another year right here, in my classroom.” I can still see her mustached upper lip snarling at me and her piercing black eyes flashing with punishable seriousness.
I have always had my own ideas about everything from the time I can remember. I watched. I listened. I commented on everything (whether anyone was listening), and if I didn’t comment verbally, I had a continual inner dialogue going on in my head. Words, words, words, thoughts and ideas went along with reading stacks of books.
I always thought if I went to school in the 90s and not the 60s, they would have probably had me on a drug, and I would have sported a label. Gratefully, I had parents who took my nosy, commenting energy and turned me into a storyteller.
Sitting on a street bench with my mother, we would “people watch” and tell each other complete stories that we were sure were true. At an early age, I felt like Sherlock Holmes, watching, listening, and observing limps, broken heels, scars, and scratches. I went to lunch and sat in locations where I could eavesdrop and overhear conversations, picking out accents, attitudes, and storylines.
People today often mistake my self-inflicted, solitary life for aloofness or arrogance. It is not that; I just want to watch, smell, hear, taste, and feel everything that is going on around me completely.
It is often difficult for writers to turn off the writer inside to socialize or be with groups of friends or even family. I know that sounds strange, but the demanding part of my work pulls me, secretly, into the viewpoint of strangers. Sometimes, playing with my imaginary friends, my characters is just so interesting.
Writers to communicate must observe, smell the flowers, and hear the bees to have something to write about.
So, when asked what it is like to be a writer, I shrugged my shoulders and mumbled something about being weird and just a nosy observer.