Last week I went over all the many ways we sabotage ourselves by not taking our writing seriously. This week I would like to share some of the ways you can remedy that. First you have to get rid of all the doubts and fears that you’ve been carrying around in your head. There is something strange about artists. They seem to always need someone else’s adulation and approval. As a nurse, I had to get a degree. In order to be officially recognized as a nurse, I had to pass a test. When I passed that test, I got a license stating that I was a Registered Nurse in the state of New Jersey.
Do you think any of that made me a good nurse? Oh, it gave me the knowledge and skills I needed to care for my patients. It didn’t teach me to care. My license didn’t teach me the instinct to know when something wasn’t right and needed attention. My degree didn’t give me the heart to drag my tired self down the hall to check on a patient just one more time. You can’t teach someone to be a nurse. It is born in them.
Too bad writers can’t get a license to prove to publishers, bookstores, and mainly themselves that they are writers. However, talent is not easily defined. I know many people who have English or Literature degrees who couldn’t write an interesting paragraph if their life depended on it. I know high-school drop-outs and many people to whom English is a second language who floor me with their talent. So what makes one a writer? Like nursing, I believe it is a calling, a gift from God.
However, we doubt our gift. We deny the very spirit that moves us to conger stories and create characters. I only know one thing. If you don’t think of yourself as a writer, no one else will. If you don’t take your writing seriously, why should anyone else?
So how do you think of yourself as a writer? I want you to take two simple steps this week. First, I want you to tell everyone who asks or anyone you meet that you are a writer. Aren’t you? Announce to that family member who wants to keep you in a well-defined box that you’ve broken out of the box. Let them know you have launched a new career. If you meet someone new and they ask you what you do for a living, tell them that you’re an author. You may be surprised at how interested and accepting people are. Those fears and doubts are in your own mind.
Why am I telling you to do this? Not to convince others, but to convince yourself. There’s something about hearing your own voice say something that makes it accepted truth. Go ahead, plunge forward with courage.
Secondly, I want you to create an office. In 2012 I watched a documentary on the author Nora Roberts. What caught my attention was her office. She had dedicated a room in her home to her writing. She had a beautiful wrap-a-round wooden desk. She had shelves that contained all her novels and awards. She surrounded herself with reminders of her own success. It made her prolific. She spends six to nine hours a day in that office. Wow! Just like a real job!
It inspired me. I looked around and found a neglected loft space in my home. I had my husband pick up my childhood desk that was languishing in my mother’s attic. It was a dark wood Spanish style, with shelves that sat above it. I framed all the covers of my books and placed them on the shelves with inspiring plaques and any good reviews or awards I received beside them. I put up a bookcase with all my reference books, and signed copies of my favorite novels and the novels that inspired me. I went to Wal-mart and purchased a comfortable swivel chair and wastebasket. I had my office!
That is your assignment. You are a real writer. If you don’t have an office – create one! Look around. You deserve your own spot. Surround yourself with your success. Each day it will remind you who you are. If you already have an office, spruce it up. Renew your surroundings and you will renew your spirit.
Karen Kelly Boyce lives on a farm in NJ with her retired husband Michael. She has two grown children and two grandchildren. She is an award-winning novelist and writes a children’s series for Chesterton Press