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Tuesday, July 19, 2011

How To Be a Writer

All right, from the get go I can tell you chances are you will learn nothing from this post about being a writer. Writing this is but another way I am not writing. Even this photos is a lie. I am not a man, and I am left handed, so it's a complete and total fraud.

But, I do write for many publications, and have written two (as of yet unpublished novels) so perhaps I have a certain amount of street cred since I do make a living as a writer.

One of my favorite things to do is go to book events and listen to writers talk about writing. I love hearing about their process, even though odds are they too are lying as well.

So here are my all-time top five things I do in the process of writing. (see, I even stole that. I love Nick Hornby and I am stealing his top five bit. I am shameless. Do not trust me).

1. Don't start in right away writing. Make sure to waste an inordinate amount of time checking email and on Facebook. Respond to as many of your friends' posts as possible, and make sure to write clever, witty status updates. It's expected, you are a writer after all.

2. You can't possibly start to write if you're hungry or thirsty so make sure after checking email and Facebook to make yourself something to eat and perhaps brew some coffee. If you're not an unhardy wimp like me this will mean caffeine which will surely help. Dilettante that I am I can only drink decaf which I feel gives me an extremely unfair disadvantage.

3. Bathroom break! After all that coffee (decaf or not) you will have to frequently stop to pee.

4. Take any phone call, even if it's from folks needing to do long, involved surveys about political causes you have no interest in. It's your duty as a citizen.

5. Open up your Word file and look at what you wrote yesterday (if you wrote anything yesterday) and begin there. By now it is probably well into the evening, all those other pursuits like brushing cats (or dogs) making more food, running errands and otherwise avoiding writing at all costs have eaten most of your day. But now is when the magic truly happens. The words come and flow effortlessly, finally. It's what I've worked towards all day.

What I've come to realize is that this scattered, seemingly unfocused routine IS my writing process. As wacky as it may appear to the outside world it works for me. I am not going to sit at my computer from 9-5 every day and produce great prose. Well, some may argue I never do, but this works for me. All that time spent not writing I am still working, I'm thinking and creating which is all part of it.

Being a writer is hard, but for me it is my passion. I live for the opportunity to string words together in a way that amuses and perhaps even inspires. I cannot imagine doing anything else, even when it appears I'm doing everything else. I am a writer. It's not just what I do, it is who I am.

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