Clock in the hours. Life – work, love, children – can get in the way of our writing plans. Do not regret the shape your life as a writer-woman has taken, don’t fret not having a regimented writing schedule, but do find a way to clock in the hours. Successful women writers may change their writing schedule when life gets in the way, but they keep at it. They clock in the hours.
“Like many writers, I am protective of the time I spend writing. Even though women write more today than ever before, most women writers still grapple with the issue of time. Often writing is the task saved for the end of the day. Not just because it is hard to value writing time, to place it above other demands, but because writing is hard . . . Now I accept that facing the difficult is part of the heroic journey of writing, a preparation, a ritual of sanctification—that it is through this arduous process of grappling with words that writing becomes my true home, a place of solace and comfort.” (p.22)
― bell hooks, remembered rapture: the writer at work
A woman does not have to write. She must imagine that she must. Each day is a struggle, and the outcome is always uncertain. Writing is work, it’s also gambling. You don’t get a pension plan. Today don’t just choose to write, choose to imagine that you must write.
“It is never too late to be what you might have been.”
― George Eliot
Eliot was an English novelist, poet, journalist, translator, and one of the leading writers of the Victorian era.
With regard to finding her writing dreams, if she could it in the Victorian era, we can do it today!
I’ve been thinking about this sentence by Elif Shafak, perhaps the most famous Turkish woman writer: “Male writers are thought of as ‘writers’ first and then ‘men’. As for female writers, they are first ‘female’ and only then ‘writers’.”
When you think of your writer self, what do you call yourself? Are you a woman-writer? Are you a writer-woman?
I’ve come to believe there’s a significant difference in how we act out that nomenclature. You see, it’s part of the story we tell ourselves. Perhaps it’s time to start calling ourselves writer-women rather than women-writers.
The truth is what we call ourselves is the label we live by.
If we change the label we live by, quite possibly we change our lives.
Starting today, I’m going to think of myself as a writer-woman. Starting today, let’s, all of us, start thinking and referring to ourselves as a writer-woman.
When you’re not writing, read. The more you read, the better your sense for how to craft your own work — articles, stories, poems, novels — will be.
Writers from William Faulkner to Stephen King to JK Rowling have advocated reading. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master, we learn our craft by studying published work. Read the best of your chosen genre that you can find, read stuff you like, and don’t be afraid to read them many times. Reading instructs and inspires your own writing.
“Writing is learned by imitation. If anyone asked me how I learned to write, I’d say I learned by reading the men and women who were doing the kind of writing I wanted to do and trying to figure out how they did it.”
– William Zinsser, On Writing Well
20 things that a woman writer needs to stop wearing:
1-20: The weight of other people’s expectations and judgments.
Have you ever been held back, by yourself, from writing because of the expectations and judgments of others?
That’s a trick question, because, if you’re a woman, the answer is, “Of course.” It’s so easy to get so wrapped up in trying to be enough for everyone else that you begin to forget about what you need. (Notice I said need, not want.)
Wearing the weight of other people’s expectations and judgments can vary from not seeming like a big deal to feeling immense amounts of pressure to have ________, to do ________.
Start walking down your writing path today – tiptoe if you need to. Chances are it won’t fit perfectly right now and might be a longer journey to get to where you want to go than you would like, but ultimately, if you are doing what you love, you’ll be happier than you are right now.