How to Be a Writer

August 1, 2016
Tongue firmly planted in cheek.  But not.


Start by reading David Sedaris and Ann Lemott.  Read ancient poetry and crappy human interest stories in the local news. Journal and then rip out the pages and burn them.  Swear a lot.  Go to therapy. 

Sit in your car and wonder about people in the parking lots.  Drink coffee as if it is the nectar of everlasting life.  Procrastinate.   Make to-do lists and pace around your kitchen building story arcs in your head. Write 12 pages of crap and then get really excited about one decent paragraph.  Order takeout. Get distracted by emails.  Turn your life into a series of experiments: give up sugar or Netflix or speaking for a month so that you can write about it.  Write at 3 am when you desperately need to sleep.  Sleep at 3 pm when you desperately need to be awake.  Wrestle with your inner demons often;  preferably out loud and in public. 

 Read biographies.  Read medical journals.  Read recent bestsellers and assure yourself that your writing is at least that good even though it likely isn't.   Learn to be kind to yourself.  Go to more therapy.   Write about it.  Dig up your childhood and write about that.  Tell stories to your friends about the funny thing that happened last week and pay attention to their body language. Have another coffee and try not to think about writing for a minute.

Write because it helps you process.
Write because you accidentally left the sprinkler on all day yesterday and you need money to cover next month's water bill.
Write because you can't not write.
And then edit it.
Edit it again.  And again.  Until your own words become so familiar they make you queasy.
And then bare your whole naked self before an endless stream of editors only to be rejected again and again until one finally accepts your work, edits the fuck out of it and pays you in magazine copies and chump change.  

Then repeat.


4 comments

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  2. Anais Nin said, "If you do not breathe through writing, if you do not cry out in writing, or sing in writing, then don't write, because our culture has no use for it." To you, I say, write! because you breathe through it, yes?!, &(!) you give others new ways to view the world through your words." You. Are. A. Writer. In your bones; it's evident in your work. I love this piece - with its levity & with its hint of vulnerability. Keep going! Magazine pay, others' editing, or whatever, you're fantastic & you're brave, brave to put it out there! Are you writing fiction? Whichever genre you decide to enter, please add me to your mailing list, because I'll buy your book. You're one of my favorites.

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    1. Sorry about deleted comment above. Idk why it posted twice!

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  3. Hi Kelly,
    Months ago, I found your decluttering posts from one of your previous blogs and I repeatedly go back to gain inspiration. :) I was just wondering how you've maintained your clutter free house and what else you may have done to simply your home. I am always in a perpetual state of decluttering...it really is my passion; but I loved seeing how you navigated your "stuff" and how you let things go. Your fall decorations are my inspiration this season. I have a couple of decorations that I've kept from past years, but they all fit on a little entry way table. But, I have real pumpkins displayed in my kitchen that are beautiful and will be consumed by the time the Christmas season comes around. Love that organic way of decorating. Thank you for your inspiration. :)

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