Prompts, that precious writing time, so you want to be a writer

Happy Holidays to everyone, and a happy new year! I pulled in a good haul for Christmas: new stories by authors I’ve never touched (Ray Vukcevich, Nikolai Gogol, and William Trevor), one from each of my Big Three (Etgar Keret, Kurt Vonnegut, and Neil Gaiman), Writer with a Day Job by Aine Greaney and Best American Nonrequired Reading edited by Dave Eggers.

Finding that time to write becomes even more difficult for me during the holidays, when my super-busy-with-work mindset switches to an even-busier-with-family one. I’ve been taking twenty minutes before bed every few days to record as many of the events and interactions as possible, a writing/journaling habit that I’ve practiced for the last three years.

But journaling is not the same as writing. It’s close, and sometimes it spills over, but isn’t the same as sitting down and writing a story. You need separation, the time, the blank word doc or piece of paper ready to be shaped into something worth looking at, worth showing.

If you’re looking for somewhere to start writing, I’ve been getting prompts from for a few weeks now, I highly recommend them. They are unique and always spark an idea in my head. You can sign up here.

It’s the end of another year, and a good time to look back at how far you’ve come. As a writer (or developer, or anything), it sometimes feels like I’m not growing at all, like I’m not putting in enough time or paying enough attention to really grow. It’s important to compare yourself to where you were two weeks ago, a month ago, 6 months ago, last year, etc. Growth happens in tiny little itty bitty increments, and the changes become visible only as time passes. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you’re not writing as much as you want to or could be. If you really want to do it, do it.

There is a poem by Charles Bukowski (via BrainPickings) called So You Want To Be A Writer. (Watch the reading of the poem on YouTube.)  In it, Bukowski tells us all the reasons we should NOT write (or do anything creative/artistic). I sometimes find this discouraging, mostly because of the self-doubt that plagues my inner-writer. But there is another perspective. In the end, Bukowski tells us:

when it is truly time, and if you have been chosen, it will do it by itself and it will keep on doing it until you die or it dies in you.
These lines seem to take some of the pressure off. Be ready for it when it is ‘truly time,’ and don’t let it die in you.

Write, now and always. Until it’s ready to do it by itself, keep practicing.