Do you remember how you met writing?
I can recall the moment when I was six years old and walked up to my mom, saying, “I want to write a book.” I wish I could remember why I said that; instead, I remember having my mom help me write a story on construction paper and title it “The Hotel That Burned Down.”
After that, writing stories was always something I did. I didn’t think about it: I just did it. I wrote about rabbits and horses and dancers and a terribly cliché group of kids with elemental powers. I didn’t show my writing to anyone if I could help it; I just did it because I loved it.
While this “writing childhood” held little significance in my mind once I began to write seriously, I’ve recently realized how important it is to remember why we became writers. What called us to begin telling stories? As I’m going to talk about here, realizing what did can immensely help us as writers today.
Everyone “meets writing” a different way. I know many writers who said they used to hate writing, and then something happened that turned them into a writer. Or perhaps, like myself, they’ve always been drawn to storytelling. Or sometimes, it’s just impossible to nail down the exact moment when you realized writing is a blast and something you want to do.
Yet I think there’s a moment that every writer has experienced when they suddenly get a sense of freedom in forming letters on a page and stories in their head. It’s when writing begins to feel like flying; though you don’t know how to fly yet, trying to so darn fun that you don’t want to stop. This is what marks the beginning of what I consider the “writing childhood”—when you’re writing for fun and don’t know that you really don’t know anything about writing. It’s pure bliss.
Unfortunately, the writing childhood, like real childhood, only lasts so long. You eventually decide to get serious about writing, realize you don’t know anything, and probably become a perfectionist set out a treacherous quest to learn more. The days of wonderful ignorance are over.
That doesn’t mean writing isn’t fun anymore. It is. But following the childhood of writing are the days when we absolutely hate writing. We can’t write. We can’t edit. Our work sucks. Why did we even decide to be a writer in the first place because it’s obviously too much work and takes too long to master????
This past fall, I fell into a writing slump like that. Writing seemed impossible, or else tediously hard. I found no joy in streaking words on a blank sheet of paper. Though the real reason for this was creative burnout, I found myself looking back at all the writing I’d done in the past years and wondering why I even started doing it in the first place. Just because I wanted to write a book? How lame of a motivation that was.
I quickly found that that wasn’t the case. If I recalled my favorite memories of my writing childhood, I saw that I wrote because I liked to go places—places that don’t exist in our reality. I liked to explore them and learn things with the characters. I loved the journey. It gave me freedom and joy. Why wasn’t I writing because of that now? When had I stopped writing because I loved to go on journeys?
That’s why the day you met writing is so important—it helps you remember what you love about writing when you don’t love writing. What’s the reason you began at all? While saying you want to write a book and all is great, I believe writing should make a writer’s soul sing (credit to Kate for that metaphor!). If it’s not, the easiest way to figure out why is to look at how you fell in love with writing.
The day you decided to be a writer is the day you decided you wanted to finish a book. It could be called the day you got serious about writing.
For some people, this might be the same as the day they met writing. For others, there could be a ten year gap between the two.
This day is nearly as important as the day you met writing. Here is the time when you might have gotten down on your knees and said, “God, I want to be a writer. I want to use my words for Your glory. Please show me how.”
I was fourteen when I ‘decided to be a writer.’ I’d just been blown away by the spiritual power of Jaye L. Knight’s Resistance and became determined to write something like that myself.
This is when you find why you write. Why do you want to publish a book? This Big Why, as Brett Harris calls it, is probably something bigger than you simply wanting to write a book; it’s about wanting to help people and change the world.
Remembering your Why is so important. When you’re completely discouraged, remembering why you wanted to write seriously in the first place will keep you going. And when you cannot for the life of you find a way to be joyful with your writing, your Why will help you carry on until you can be joyful again.
As writers, we know the importance of motivation and backstory for characters. That is why our motivation and backstory are so, so important as well. Looking at where we’ve come from can help us to better live where we are and figure out where we want to go. Though our stories as writers are far from over, finding what drew you to writing and why you decided to write can be huge motivation boosters for whatever writing struggles you go through.
I hope you enjoyed this Valentine-themed post 😉 How did you meet writing? When/why did you decide to be a writer?