Job Shadowing: I want to be a writer when I grow up…

Sometimes, in this area, eighth graders have to do job shadowing.  Recently, a girl chose to interview me while job shadowing my library director becuase she knew that I was a writer.  This got me thinking there are some things that might be helpful to share here.  For example, she asked about “the writing life.”  “Writing,” I said, “is a full-time job.  There may not be a steady pay check, but there needs to be a steady schedule.” 

It was interesting listening to myself spout out all this good advice on the writing life.  Some anecdotes I’d only just learned while in the Creative Writing MFA program at Wilkes University.  I’d always known that I was a writer, but it takes effort, and a lot of dedication, to cultivate that talent.  Maybe you have found this to be true:  regular writing is necessary if you’re a writer.  Writing is as necessary as eating breakfast, sleeping enough and getting enough exercise.  For the writer, daily writing is a must, even if it’s the glovebox napkin or the K-mart receipt scrawl. 

Tips to keep motivated:

Set a specific time to write.  Tell yourself you are going to write.  Norman Mailer once said that if you say you’re going to show up at the page, then show up at the page.  Your brain has already prepared content, you just have to meet it there.  I don’t know if you’ve ever experienced “writers’ guilt.”  See, that happens when I say I’m going to greet the page and then hit the snooze button.  The rest of the day is shadowed with frustration and guilt. 

Write daily, even if it’s a paragaph.  This habit will stick and become fruitful.  Remember that even a small amount of writing is better than no writing at all.

If you’re stuck, don’t stop.  Take a small break and consult, what my friend Jenny calls, “a treasure box.”  She keeps a sundry collection of items in small boxes:  shells, bottle toppers, crayons, etc.  These objects may trigger an idea or refresh your mind.  Simply stopping for a moment might inspire you to go on.

Stop when you’re on a roll.  What?  But, I’m full of ideas!  Great.  Make notes and stop.  Just like preparing your brain to write,  you will log that information and give it time to cultivate throughout the day.  What this also does is keeps you motivated and excited to return to your writing project. 

Form a support system.  Therapy?  Well, in a way.  Getting together with a group of writers on a regular basis keeps one strong.  It’s helpful to talk about your writing inclinations and even the quirks of the creative disposition.  Other writers are sympathetic and will often offer encouragement and inspiration.  Just be wary of those who try to drain your energy with their self-imposed agendas.  That can happen. 

Keep writing!

Be well and write on,


Local Writing Community

it can’t be said enough how important it is to have a writing community.  If you are a writer you know the hardest work happens in those pre-dawn (or after dark hours), before/after work, kids, daily obligations…  What an amazing event it is, though, when you are able to emerge from that writing chrysalis (or chamber, as it sometimes feels like) and share your work with others.  That part isn’t always easy, either.  But it is rewarding.  If you don’t know what’s going on in your writing community, ask around.  Look in your local independent papers.  Go to venues and events and open mikes.  

For me, the immersion in the Wilkes University Creative Writing program opened many doors for me locally.  I’d been in the Wilkes-Barre area three years before I’d even tried to get involved in, or even realized, the fruitful creative community around me.  Even if you’re a loner, go out and be social.  There are other writers out there just like you, similar to you, or even wholly opposite.  But any of those writerly neighbors around you can inform your work or connect you to someone else, or a good writing and/or reading opportunity.

Hearing the words, “I chose you because you’re a great writer and performer,” mean the world to me.  I used to cry and get physically ill before grade school book reports.  Sure, I loved to read.  But to get up in front of my peers and present???  Never thought I’d relish it, but I do.  And I do because of the creative supportive community around me.  

It’s not surprising, really, how encouraging fellow writers can be.  Some can be arrogant or competitive or exclusive.  But for the most part, the ones I’ve been around, have been nothing but supportive.  I jokingly called our group “Writers’ Anonymous” (I’ve written a poem about it, too.)  But it’s not so much a joke.  These are the people who listen to you, share your fears, lift you up and give you the courage–and opportunity–to shine.  

If you are in the Wilkes-Barre area, you should check out this great site:  A great fantasy writer, Nathan Summerlin, saw the need to connect writers and inform them.  

Go find your people, wherever they are!  They are out there and waiting to welcome you.

Be well and write on,


P.S.  And, for a moment of wow…after I was introduced at a reading this weekend, I approached the stage with one thought:  “Wow.  I really earned this moment.”  My hope is that my reading exemplified that.  Thank you to all my supporters and fellow readers and writers.