Advice: Feeling Like a Writer

Every once in a while there are posts on various blogs about how to be a “real writer.” Some of them are in jest, some of them stand by a need to be publishing in order to be a writer, and others seek to debunk that claim. Personally, I don’t think you need to be published to be considered a “real” writer. All you need to do is write. There are plenty of people who sit around talking about writing and expressing their desire to begin writing, but the only way to distinguish yourself as a “real” writer is to sit down and put down the words. As long as you are in the process of writing something, then you are a writer.

Recently I found a quote on Goodreads from Neil Gaiman about the act of writing, and identity as a writer. In the quote, Gaiman says: “I’m writing. The pages are starting to stack up. My morale is improving the more I feel like a writer.”

I love this quote and I think it describes the same way I feel when I’m in the midst of writing something. Whether you’re seeing pages stack up, or pages whiz by on your Word document, making progress in your writing is a great feeling. And making that progress will make you feel more like a writer because you’re creating more and producing more. When you have a document on your computer or a binder full of paper, it’s also easier to tell people that you’re a writer, because you’ve actually done some writing.

So I guess the advice I want to impart in this post is to take the leap and get started on a writing project. Or, if you’ve already begun and are stalled in the middle, get back to it! It can be difficult to sit down and actually perform the act of writing, but I can almost guarantee that you’ll feel better and more motivated once you’ve sat down and done the deed. Happy writing!

— Jet Fuel Blog Editor, Mary Egan

Writing Advice: You Must Go On

Here we are at the end of my week-long break from writing. After the month of writing at a breakneck speed for National Novel Writing Month, I needed a very brief breather. Now that that’s over, though, it’s time to dive back in, as I said in last week’s post. It can be tough to come back to a piece of writing after you’ve put some space between you and the words you chose. Even if it’s a brief amount of time, you might feel strange sitting back down to write in that world, or you may feel like you’re not doing a very good job this time around. Those feelings are natural, of course, but you must go on and you must push past them to be productive.

There is a quote from Stephen King that talks about this pushing forward notion. King says,  “Sometimes you have to go on when you don’t feel like it, and sometimes you’re doing good work when if feels like all you’re managing is to shovel shit from a sitting position.” He’s absolutely right. There are times when you’re going to feel like you’re not getting anywhere, like you’re just moving words around, and like you’re not doing anything right in your writing. I’m no stranger to those times, but the key is to get past them somehow. What helps you do that? What can get you through those discouraging feelings?

One thing that really helps me is having a support group of fellow writers around me. One of the best things about NaNoWriMo, for me, is that thousands of other writers are undertaking the same challenge as you. Everyone is trying this crazy thing at the same time, and that dynamic somehow pushes you through any rough patches you may come across.

Something I’m going to try in the coming months is to replicate that group dynamic that NaNoWriMo brings with it. I am a member of a year-round writing group that contains many of the same people I write alongside in November. Some of these folks have set up an accountability group. In this group, we’ll meet each month to set out our writing goals and update each other on our progress. Hopefully this will lend itself to a group dynamic similar to NaNoWriMo and push us all through those discouraging moments.

And, of course, it’s always best to remember the cardinal rule that I like to tout around the blog: keep on writing! Even if you’re feeling discouraged, it’s better to get words on the page than to let those feelings get you down. As Neil Gaiman says (pictured above), “Write. Finish things. Keep writing.”

I hope you find that thing that helps you push on through and keep going in your writing project. And I hope you can maintain that in the months to come. Happy writing!

— Jet Fuel Blog Editor, Mary Egan