I want to Write
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The Five W’s of Writing
(or of anything else you love to do)
I read once that it takes a writer one million words before the world is ready to take them seriously. Well, that’s a lot of words and if it were true then I’m certain a lot of wonderful books would never have been written. Why? Because a million words is at least ten books.
Take the American classic, `To Kill a Mocking Bird,’ written in 1960 by Harper Lee and, to date, her only published novel. That’s not even scratching the surface of one million words.
My point is, when you read and hear things that make you doubt whether you are ever going to get off the ground as a writer, ignore them.
If you really want to be a writer, the only thing stopping you – is you.
I was once a young enthusiastic girl who loved to write and wanted more than anything, to be a writer. There were obstacles, but I tried my best to overcome them and I discovered that while the obstacles could sometimes seem insurmountable, there was always a way if I persisted.
So here are my five W’s – Whether, What, Where, When and Why I write – and how I managed the early stages of becoming a writer.
1) Whether I write (or not): Years ago this often depended on my mood or how many other things I had to do in the (often) small snippets of time available to me (I became more disciplined with time). In the early days, as a single working mother of four, with hungry mouths to feed and all the costs of running a household, I often did not manage to complete my goal of writing X number of words every day.
This is where sheer determination kept me on track and finally brought me my first acceptance, a short story in the Australian New Idea magazine. They no longer publish short stories but I will always love New Idea for the huge confidence boost their acceptance gave me.
2) What I write: When I was starting out I had a job that began at 7.00 a.m, Monday to Friday so there was a lot of early morning activity in my house. Little people to get out of bed and have washed, dressed and fed before taking them off to Nana and Poppa’s house where they would stay until school started. I never thought back then that my life could actually be interesting enough for someone to read about and yet today I pick up magazines and see on the internet where some young Mum has a column talking about just those things – the daily workings of a family household whether it be the Mum, Dad and kids dynamic, or just Mum or Dad and kids. Fortunately there were plenty of other things to write about, much of it inspired from people-watching, but I probably missed some of the most precious by not realizing that almost everything has a niche market; there will always be people who are interested in what someone has to say about a particular subject or situation. Today I write mostly novels and at the moment I am also working on a non-fiction work to honour another writer and entertainer, Lola Bryan, who passed away almost four years ago and is still missed by many.
3) Where I write: Okay, back then there wasn’t a lot of money and the house was small. Three girls and one boy meant someone had to room with the opposite sex and when girls get to a certain age they do NOT want to room with their little brother, no matter how cute and sweet he may be. Often I would walk down the hall and see my little man sitting on the floor reading outside the firmly closed-door of his and his older sister’s bedroom.
`What are you doing?’ I would ask, already knowing the answer. His sister had `girl’ things to do – this daughter was constantly rehashing her wardrobe (she’s a designer/seamstress now) and she wasn’t having her little brother ogling while she was changing from one outfit to another. This is just to say that the where in my house was either a tiny corner of a very small lounge; the dining table; my bed (my actual bedroom was too small for a desk or any sort) and any other cramped corner I could insert myself into. Actually, I loved my writing moments so much, using an old Olivetti portable typewriter, often balanced on my knees, that I became quite adept at finding little possies and making do for whatever spare half hour I might have. Today I have a study, which I share with my husband but sometimes I’ll take my laptop and hole up in the lounge on my sofa; just for old times sake.
4) When I write: I used to use the night hours when the kids were asleep but sometimes I would be so tired that I’d nod off. So I’d try other times like, when they were watching one of the few TV programs they were permitted to watch after dinner; on weekends when some of them might have been at friends’ houses (never ALL of them at the same time), and the sheets were changed; the washing was on the line; ironing finished; ferrying kids to sports and music commitments undertaken; house cleaning done; baking in the oven; and any of the million other chores a busy household conjures up for its main worker and transport bee. I actually became quite creative with my when’s and, on the whole, managed several hours every week. Today I work from 9 – 5, five days a week and often edit for my husband’s blogs on a Saturday. When we go away my laptop comes with me and I revert to knee-balancing in whatever space I can find – old habits proving useful.
5) Why I write: This is what it all comes down to in the end – the why. When a person really wants to write it’s because, I believe, deep down there is a need. For instance, a seamstress needs to sew; an actor needs to act; a singer needs to sing. I’ve yet to see an adrenalin junkie choosing rather to sit and knit for the day than grab a surf board and head for the nearest wave or hang off a bungy line.
So, if writing is what you are drawn to do then you will find a way to negotiate the obstacles.
Have you heard the saying, `A land without water becomes a desert?’ Well, I liken it this way – It’s the storms in a writer’s life that water their words and give them life.
So, you want to be a writer? Then just do it!
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