Today, I’m excited to share an excerpt from my recently published book, Ready, Set, Write: A Guide to Creative Writing. This is from the book’s introduction. Enjoy!
A Writer’s Journey Begins
When I was a little girl, my mom used to sit, curled up on the couch, with a thick paperback novel in her hands and a big bag of M&Ms in her lap. I’m still trying to quit my candy habit! But books are forever.
My mom taught me to read by the time I turned four. The rhyming stories of Dr. Seuss were among my early favorites. Soon I was devouring Charlotte’s Web and Little House in the Big Woods. Later it was the Narnia books and A Wrinkle in Time. I constantly checked out Where the Sidewalk Ends from my school library. Whenever I asked for new books, my mom would take me to the used paperback store and let me pick out a few. Whenever the Scholastic newsletter came, she let me order a few books from the catalog. And whenever I asked to go to the big public library, she drove me there.
When I was about thirteen years old, something changed. After years of reading other people’s words, I started putting my own words on the page.
They were poems or songs, inspired by the music that I loved and informed by the books I had read. I composed these pieces in my spiral-bound notebook, which was intended for schoolwork. I remember marveling at the words I’d written. I had created something—and I had done it with nothing more than a pen and paper and some words. I was elated. I wanted to write more.
Around the same time, one of my teachers required our class to keep journals. We wrote in our journals for a few minutes every day, and when the semester ended, I continued writing in mine throughout the summer and for years afterward.
I filled many notebooks throughout my teens and early twenties. I wrote about my thoughts and feelings. I explored ideas. I wrote poems and personal essays. I composed song lyrics. Later, I started to tinker with storytelling.
I sometimes hear people talk about what it means to be a “real writer.” Occasionally, someone will say that a “real writer” loves to write, needs to write, or gets paid to write.
I’m a real writer because I write. Sure, sometimes I love it, but not always. Other times, I need to do it, but not always. Sometimes I get paid to write, but that didn’t happen until many years after I’d started writing. There are times when writing is frustrating, exhausting, or just plain difficult. I’ve experienced writer’s block. I’ve struggled with doubt and dismay about my work. I’ve taken long, unplanned breaks from writing.
But I always come back.
Writing is part of who I am. It’s what I do.
If you’re reading this, you’re probably a writer, too. At the very least, you’re an aspiring writer. That doesn’t mean you intend to get your name on a best-seller list (although you might). It doesn’t mean you plan to get paid for your writing (although you might). It doesn’t mean you will submit your work and get it published (although you might).
It just means you want to write.
And so you should.
About Ready, Set, Write: A Guide to Creative Writing
As the title implies, this book is a guide to creative writing. It isn’t a book that delves into grammar, spelling, or punctuation. It doesn’t tell you how to become a professional, published author. It does one thing and one thing only: shows you what you can write and how you can write it.
You’ll start by creating a space in which to write. Then you’ll explore various forms of writing that you can experiment with in your new writing space. You’ll answer some questions about writing. You’ll try some writing activities. You’ll learn techniques to help you stay motivated and inspired. Finally, you’ll put together your own writer’s tool kit.
You’ll find questions and activities to prompt a writing session at the end of each chapter. So get your notebook ready.
Get Ready to Write
The more you explore and experiment, the more fun you’ll have and the better your writing will become. Try different forms and genres. Use a variety of tools and techniques. Take risks, and don’t expect everything to come easily, but know that your efforts will be rewarded.
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