Writing Advice from Young Authors

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“If you really love writing, follow it with all of your heart. Try your best to become an author.  Even if you write your first book  and it turns out to be a flop, you just keep going, and maybe it will become a movie!”  —young writer from Creative Write-it Workshop

           Before my morning coffee, I watched a video to help me write a post I struggled with and subsequently deleted the day before.  The video began with excited kids rushing into a room with smiles on their faces and writing materials in their hands.  The studio had huge picture windows that invited nature in to be an inspiration.  There were open shelves filled with books, a shiny wood floor, and tables with kids already seated and writing.   The kids are participants in a writing workshop.

         Then, one cute kid plopped down in a chair with a sign that read, “Author Chair.”   He begun by stating that he’d been a writer for 2 1/2 years.  He appeared to be about 8 years old.  A little girl shared that she had been writing since she was 4; she looked about 6 years old.  I was captivated right away because some of these kids knew when they first started writing, more specifically, when they became authors.   The video was made and uploaded by Creative Write-it  (http://www.creativewriteit.com.au/), a writing workshop that combines the passion for writing with the love of working with young children.  Here is the link to the video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aMWEmoT3KYk).

          I ran the video twice at home and again once I got to work to share it with my high school students.  We’d been reading stories from the Realism period and trying our hands at writing.  I wanted to infect them, and myself, with the confidence exhibited in the video.  After viewing the video several times, I realized that I had something in common with the young authors.  I loved writing as a child.  I would write on envelopes, on loose leaf paper, in journals, in margins of books, on church programs, and on menus.  Writing was a constant in my life then as it is now.  They even enjoyed writing when they’d experienced difficulties such as running out ideas.  I wish I had seen this video 24 hours earlier because I’d written a pretty good essay.  However, after driving home and thinking about it, cooking dinner and thinking about it, and rereading it once more, I deleted it.  I regret it now.

Hearing the excitement in the voices reminded me that I am supposed to enjoy writing.  Yes, it’s hard.  Yes, I don’t always feel confident about my writing.  But, girl, get over yourself!  Post something already!   In closing, here is what I learned from watching the video of the young authors at Creative Write-It:

  • Say “you’re a writer.”  The kids confidently claimed that they had been writers for long periods of time.  The kids themselves decided they were writers, not an audience.  I must declare that I am a writer even if no one reads my writing.
  • ideas are everywhere.   A few kids shared that ideas are usually right under your nose.  Some of them found inspirations in their dreams; others used their imaginations to dream up stories.  I must realize that every day a story is story presents itself.  I dream, I imagine, and I observe.  I need to follow that up with writing.
  • Writing can be difficult.  One kid admitted that sometimes she just runs out of ideas while writing and it makes her want to scrap the entire project (I know the feeling).  However, she keeps going because she wants to meet the deadline.  First, set goals and deadline to provide guidance and to reduce the need to perfect my posts.  Second, when I want to scrap a piece of writing, just keep going.  Maybe I can use the draft some other time.
  • Know why you write.    One kid shared that she has to write her feelings on paper.  She added that if it is in head, she just had to get it out by writing to create a little more space.  Another kid shared that he is always thinking of different characters and places and writing is the easiest way to [do something with them].  A third young writer resolved that she just had to practice her handwriting and her letters.  When she was in writing class, she had no choice.

The video ended with a young writer encouraging others to follow their hearts if you love writing.   I am encouraged.





Good Morning: Reclaiming My Time

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I don’t usually take many days off from work, but I needed a day to write.   I contacted everyone by email to let them know that I wouldn’t be in the office on Monday.   I had a few projects that needed closure so Friday night I stayed a little later to get things finished.   I worked diligently to make sure that I didn’t have anything to worry about while I was out.  Once I felt that everything required of me was done, I grabbed my stuff, turned off the lights, and headed for the door.  I usually sign out, but the office was locked.  Other than the custodians, I was the last person to leave the building on a Friday night.  Even though it was late, I felt good about the Monday coming.  On Monday, I planned to go to my favorite coffee shop, bright and early.  I would sit at my usual table.  It has a bright light overhead and enough room to spread out.

After I was about 20 minutes away from the job, I remembered that I borrowed a book from the media department that had to be returned on Monday.  Nothing can take the joy out of taking a day off from work faster than having to drive the work anyway.  I could’ve kept the book with me until Tuesday and suffered the wrath of the media director.  However, I promised that I would return it on Monday because another colleague had signed up to read it.  Just thinking about having to take that drive Monday made me instantly angry with myself.  That Monday was set aside for writing, not running errands.

*  * *

Monday came and it was raining.  My alarm usually rings at 4:30 a.m., but I awoke around 4:25.  I think it was because of the excitement of taking the day off.  I’d already planned to edit and revise an essay I started on Saturday.  So, I jumped up, showered quickly, got dressed, and booked it out the door.  I had a 45-minute one way drive to tackle first.  What a waste of time and gas.  Moreover, I didn’t want to see anyone and I didn’t want anyone to see me.  I left the house at 5:45 to beat the traffic and my colleagues.

I had to trick my mind and my spirit into being okay with taking this drive instead of keeping the book until Tuesday.  I love rainy days except when I have to go to work and especially when I have to drive some place I don’t want to go.  After getting everything packed in the truck:  my laptop, favorite pens, used and unused journals, and before starting the car, I looked into the read view window.  My heart told my mind to write a story about why this drive was so important.  I spun this story while I drove:

I have an important client who lent me a first edition leather-bounded book from her personal library.  Her father gave her that book.  This was the first time she’d ever allowed the book to leave her library.  In order to not fall out of favor with this important client, I must honor my promise to return the book first thing Monday morning.  I’d like to keep my word because my word is my bond.  Yes, returning this book is keeping me from making it to the coffee shop at my appointed time, but I’ll get there eventually.   Life is full of interruptions, intrusions, and inconveniences, especially when you are trying to get to the good stuff.  Get over it.

* * *

It was still raining when I pulled into the parking lot.  I snatched the car keys out of the ignition and the book from the passenger seat,  Without an umbrella, I ran into the office with my book tucked in my rain jacket.  I stepped into the lobby.  The lights were on and it was quiet.  The receptionist wasn’t there yet.  The computer that I’ve signed into everyday for two years was in its usual place.  However, today I was able to by-pass it.  That gave me thrill of its own.

I took a few steps into the mail room to place the book in the media box.  One of my colleagues was on her way out.  She leaned on the door with her right hand on the door knob and her briefcase in her left had.  The door was slightly opened.  I said, ” Good morning.”  She looked me right in the face and said nothing.  She pushed the door harder and walked  out of the mail room.  The door shut behind her.  I stood there at first, shocked.  The, I shook my head and thought it strange that people could actually lock eyes with someone and not reciprocate a good morning.

* * *

And, I have to say that most of my colleagues neglect to say good morning.  Sometimes they walk by you in the halls or enter meeting rooms and offices without greetings.  They just start talking about whatever concerns them.  Other times, I’ve said good morning and is received with stares or feigned busyness.

I was raised to wake up in the morning and greet everyone in the house.  I was raised to say good morning everywhere I go until 11:59 a.m.  Bus drivers, waiters, receptionists all get good mornings.  Before I said anything else, I had to say good morning.

Unfortunately, over time I had stopped doing what my grandmother and mother instilled in me.  I’d adopted the custom of not greeting colleagues.  I’d gotten used to walking down hallways as if I was alone although other people walked ahead and behind me.  Today, for reason, I couldn’t help myself.  A good morning just fell out of my mouth.

Besides, this was MY Monday morning, not theirs.

* * *

It was still raining when I ran back into the car.  I squeezed by another colleague getting out of hers.  I asked her pardon; she granted it.  I drove off mad with myself again because I should’ve been in the coffee shop by now writing already.

As I was driving, something hit me right in my heart.  My day of writing was not delayed because I had to return the book.  It was fueled by it.  The interruption, the intrusion, and the inconvenience blessed me.  This essay wasn’t the one I took the day off to write, but there it was, sitting in my lap.

I’ve been asking myself why do I need to take a day off to write.  I should write everyday.  Well, The encounter in the mail room answered that for me.  I needed a new environment; I needed new motivation.  And when I needed it, it came to me.  I gave myself a Monday and Monday gave me an essay to write.

Good morning to me.