Motivational Monday ~ It’s Not Too Late to Be Who You Were Meant to Be

22 Oct

Last week, I was over on SavvyAuthors (an awesome site for authors) blogging about my path to publication. I titled the blog, “What If You’re Not a Born Writer?”  Here’s the link to the original post, if you want to check out the comment section over there. (Click here.) The entire post is re-posted here. I like the new title, too: “It’s Not Too Late to Be Who You Were Meant to Be.” Never to late.

I am in awe of the writer who knew her destiny since birth. She has a gift for storytelling. Her bio is filled with stories about how she put crayon to paper when she was in pre-school and her peers gathered around with their blankets as she weaved stories about princesses and dragons and the knight in shining armor who saved the day. Or maybe it was the alien who abducted the naughty little boy who ignored his momma’s warning not to take the short-cut through the woods.

This same “born” writer relays stories about how she snuck grandma’s Harlequins from her closet and devoured them under her blanket by the light of a flashlight when she was a precocious ten-year-old. She absorbed the elements that made a wonderful romance by virtue of her voracious reading habits. When she put pen to paper, no one had to tell her what made a good story. She knew. Inherently.

But what if you didn’t share the experience of the “born” writer. Is it too late for you? Will you always be playing catch up with the writer who had a passion for it from an early age?

I was close to thirty when I first got the idea to write. The idea came in the form of an advertisement in a women’s magazine. Remember the ad about writing for children? Heck, I had a kid, maybe I could write. But from day one, doubts plagued me. In the beginning, I had an obsession with reading author bios. I’d click on author websites and sigh every time an author had a MFA in Creative Writing. I’d throw down my pen every time an author said she’d been writing stories since pre-school. How could I compete? I have a degree in engineering and up until my mid-twenties, I only read books I had to. You know, the required reading for AP English? I had spent my youth focusing on math and science. English was too subjective for my analytical brain.

However, the desire to write grew. I used my “left brain” to study the market. I learned that romance readers were a voracious bunch. I read across the different subgenres and realized romantic suspense was my favorite. I think it has something to do with putting the puzzle pieces together to solve the who-done-it?

Yet doubts continued to plague me. I couldn’t instinctively put together the pieces of a story, not like some of my peers who had been reading romance for twenty years. But I had a desire and the inclination to learn. And darn it, the desire to write wouldn’t leave me. So, I started to take concrete steps towards my goal:

  1. I joined RWA. Since I write romantic suspense, this was key. If you write a different genre, seek out a group that would best support your writing. Through RWA, I attended conferences, learned from workshops, and met other writers. Little by little, the elements of writing were no longer shrouded in mystery.
  2. On-line resources. When I first started writing, the internet was in its infancy, however it was my first means to reach out to other writers. And I did. Writers are a helpful bunch. Now, there are so many online resources including Savvy Authors which has fantastic workshops. I highly recommend them.
  3. Read. There is no way you can become a better writer if you do not read. Read all different kinds of books. You’ll start to see what works and doesn’t work. I can’t believe I didn’t discover the joy of reading for pleasure until my adulthood.
  4. Find a critique partner. Sometimes this takes trial and error. Be open to constructive criticism, but be willing to leave a group if it’s not working for you. You’ll know when you click with a critique partner. They shouldn’t praise everything you do, nor should they rip you to shreds. In the end, the right critique partner should help you become a better writer. The benefits should be mutual.
  5. Read craft books. This doesn’t work for everyone, but because I’m analytical, it helped me understand the elements of story. Some of my favorites include:
    • Techniques of the Selling Writer by Dwight V. Swain. This book is very dense with knowledge, but if you push through it, you’ll learn a lot.
    • Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Brown and Dave King. I’ve reread this one a few times.
    • Stephen King’s On Writing. I can’t say enough about this one. It’s more inspiration than anything else. There are countless craft books. Ask other authors for their recommendations. Different books click for different people.
  6. Write. In order to be a writer, you must write. I highly recommend steps 1-5, but if you don’t do number 6, you are not a writer. Writers write. Write when you don’t feel like it. Write through the doubts. I constantly have to remind myself of step 6. It’s easy to be overwhelmed. But once I sit down and push through it, I remember how much I love to write. Heck, if it were easy, everyone would be doing it.

If you are a born writer, congratulations! I think it’s fantastic that you recognized a gift in your formative years. However, if you’re more like me and didn’t find your calling until you were an adult, don’t despair. I truly believe God (or the universe) wouldn’t plant the desire to do something if you didn’t have the ability somewhere deep down within you. You just have to dig deep.

Happy writing.

Today’s a new day! What steps are you taking to pursue your dreams?


Alison Stone

2 Responses to “Motivational Monday ~ It’s Not Too Late to Be Who You Were Meant to Be”

  1. thejoysofwriting October 23, 2012 at 11:34 am #

    I, too, started writing in my 30s. Like you said, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I felt by that time I’d actually lived some life and had something to write about. Doesn’t really matter when you start writing, huh? Just as long as you start!

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