Writing is work

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A person writing in their notebook.This morning, my spin instructor said December was for wrapping things up and January is for starting new things. Hmm. I’ve never thought about it that way before. I do know a lot of people start going to the gym this month – part of their “New Year’s Resolution” regime.

According to this article, one in three Canadians make resolutions — and out of those numbers, over 70 per cent won’t keep their promises. I have seen a few writers resolve to finally finish their books. I’ve also fielded many questions from aspiring authors about how to start their books. In fact, as a writing instructor, that’s the top question I’m asked. My answer is always that writing is work.

Writing takes time and effort. You can have a great idea but if you’re not writing it down, then you just have an idea. You’re not a writer unless you’re writing and shaping your thoughts into a story with characters and events. To be an author, you need to approach writing as a job.

Start your writing job by scheduling time in your day to write. Some people write best in the morning while others prefer late at night. Whatever your preference, try to keep to the same routine (day and time). As well, you’ll need to tell your family and friends to leave you alone during the time you’ve set aside. If this can’t be done at home, go to a café or the library. Sometimes the lively atmosphere of a coffee shop can add colour to your own words.

If you don’t have an hour or four, take any time you can get. You’d be surprised at how much you can write in 10 minutes. Use the dead time while you’re commuting or waiting for an appointment to jot down some things on your mobile phone or scrap paper. Speaking of phones, turn off your notifications. Other distractions like e-mail and magazines can wait until you’ve written 50 words. Then you can reward your hard work with a peep at Facebook.

There’s no magic pill that’ll turn you into a writer. As I tell my writing workshop participants, no one cares about your idea. You have to care enough about it to make it into a story. That’s only going to happen if you do some work and start writing.

If you’re in the Edmonton area and looking to start writing your memoir, I’m teaching at the North Edmonton Seniors Association. Memoirs by You starts tomorrow, January 9. For more information and how to register, go here: http://bit.ly/2lVMcIM

I’m also teaching Memoir Writing, Your Story, Your Way at the West Side Seniors Activity Centre starting Thursday, Feb 22. For more information and how to register, go here: http://bit.ly/2CFAGLP

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