“If your calling is to make things, then you have to make things to live out your highest creative potential – and also to remain sane.”

Elizabeth Gilbert.
If there is one question you need to answer before you launch yourself into the creative world, it is WHY?
The reasons given above are exactly WHY I have to write. If I don’t, I go bat shit crazy, or sink into the depths of self-loathing and depression. Which if you think about it, considering I was on a 6 year ‘break’ from writing was a VERY BAD thing.
That is not to say that during this time I was out wreaking Dorian Gray style havoc or silently harming myself in private. No, I taught English Literature and History in a Swiss private school and had a serious relationship. BUT I felt kind of numb inside, and when the relationship ended, and the job went belly up because I was bullied out by my boss, WHAT DID I HAVE? A big empty bowl which had no resemblance to who I feel I really am.

We all have endless amounts of crap which dumps on us just when we think life is on the straight and narrow. The one sure thing that can keep us sane is being as true to who we arecas possible, and what we do is who we become.
So, if your heart is crying out to be a writer BE A WRITER!

Our Frenemy The Inner Fear

Of course you are terrified when you utter the words I AM A WRITER. I bet you have you lovely inner voice of FEAR crying back at you a mini-diatribe. Mine goes something like this.

Who the hell do you think you are? You have been ‘trying’ to write for decades and got nothing published. Stop wasting your time. You are not good enough. You are mediocre at everything. Jack of all trades. Go back to your teaching job. It’s all you are good for ETC., etc.

Painful, I know. Everyone has that voice and as Ms. Gilbert do adeptly points out it is there for a good reason. Our FEAR can be a valuable protector at times of real physical or mental threat. When I was being bullied by the aforementioned boss, I had an instinct long before it happened, and somehow, even though it was an awful experience, I was semi-prepared and found the courage to face her off and walk out the door. This was because my inner fear had prepared me. So fear is not always bad.

BUT when it comes to creativity Fear is our worst enemy. It is a bit like the parent who is loving but over-protective. At some point if you don’t face up to that parent or that inner Fear and do what YOU WANT you will live their life and not yours. This is one of the reasons why psychiatrist’s offices are filled the world over.

Live Your Life, Not Someone Else’s:

Now you may have other reasons than pure passion to want to become a Writer. Maybe like J.K. Rowling you have been through a divorce, have children to feed, and are struggling financially. However, I am guessing that even J.K. Rowling had a plan B as she tapped away faithfully in the corner of cafés while her baby slept.

It is, of course, fine to imagine that you are the next Joanne Kathleen. I am the first to applaud courage and GO FOR IT. However, I say that with a caveat. While we have established you love to write, success in the financial and the critical sense is a rare commodity. We can all do it, I am sure, but you absolutely have to have ‘other’ reasons to write that are not just about financial reward. It is a very long, hard, game and having not published anything yet, I am the first to admit it.

However, as long as you write YOU ARE A WRITER. But you must write! I have long ago decided that the rewards of the act of writing itself are enough for me. If I am published, and actually ever make money, that will of course be fantastic, but to quote another great Writer:

“To me, the greatest pleasure of writing is not what it’s about, but the inner music the words make.”

Truman Capote

I have to write to hear that and to feel complete. Which leads straight to the biggest cry of my Inner Fear!

How Can I Write and Not Starve To Death?

Of course, you must eat, cloth yourself and maybe many others in your family. I am not saying you have to give up your job, and put your whole life on the line. What I am saying is that ANY WRITING HABIT means you are a Writer. So, if you are limited on time and cannot leave the job you are in, just create a DAILY HABIT if possible of writing for a minimum of 30 minutes.

If you can give more time, fantastic. 30 – 60 minutes is enough to get you going. Everyone can get 30 minutes earlier or go to bed 30 minutes later depending on whether you are a night owl or an early bird. The habit and the ACT OF WRITING is the key. In the next section I will talk about HABIT FORMING. Which is essential to getting our writing going. And as my Writing Guru Ms. Gilbert says:

“Done is better than good.”

Task 2: Letter to your Inner Fear

Answer the following question, and make it as detailed as you want:

1. Why do I want to write?

Be honest, but if your answer is mostly practical or financial, choose another career because writing is a slow and lonely path.

2. Write a letter to your Inner Fear.

I am going to steal a method of Elizabeth Gilbert’s that I find very useful. Write a letter to your Inner Fear outlining all the things that you are terrified might happen if you start to really give time to writing. Be respectful as you would be to a parent, but BRAVE enough to stand up for yourself. Then sign the letter and keep it. TAKE IT OUT anytime you feel that fear rising up again.