Three Ways to Write; One Reason

There are three ways to write… no wait, there are thirty-three ways to write… no, that’s not right; there are thirty-three trillion ways to write. But there is only one reason to write: because you have to or something inside will explode if you don’t.

Real writers feel that “something” in a variety of ways. Some get an empty feeling inside when they don’t write; some get headaches; some over-indulge (food, drugs, alcohol) when the computer is shut down and the pens are out of ink. One writer friend I know gets strong pains in her right (write) hand. Honestly! Sometimes she just gets a dull ache, but if that doesn’t pull her to the computer, she’ll soon find cuts and ingrown fingernails on that hand.

You don’t have to go to those extremes to know you are a writer. Often someone tells me, “I’m trying to be a writer.” My question is always, “Are you writing anything?” If the answer is “Yes,” I can identify that person as a writer.

You don’t have to be writers of bestsellers, movies-of-the-year (or books or movies of any kind) to qualify for the title “writer”. You just have to want to write.

Some writers aim for the big-time, the bestsellers, the “top 10”, and the big bucks. Now that’s work – and a lot of it. Writers with goals in the atmosphere expect to put in the work:

  • long hours at the computer
  • constant upgrading of information and writing techniques
  • criticism
  • soul-scathing searches for representation and publishers
  • scads of rejection
  • tons of re-writing
  • and… (Oh dear, someone just fainted. Probably not a “real” author.)

Many more writers have goals within reach. They write for magazines, publish on the Internet, consult with local business leaders and seek out people who hire writers. These probably form the majority of successful writers and, incidentally, make the most money consistently.

The majority of writers have that gnawing inside them that takes them into the realm of putting words on paper. Perhaps they write a family history; I’ve read a few that knock my socks off. Perhaps they write essays; again, some of these are talented pieces of work. Perhaps they write stories for their children, not necessarily for the world.

Every one of these predominant writers have the talent to become big name writers in fields of memoir, fiction, children’s stories, short story collections, and almost any other kind of writing. However, many of them have fulfilling, busy day jobs: leading businesses, caring for the ill, catching criminals, managing a full load of studies, raising children, or fighting fires. The writing is secondary, a hobby that satisfies as it calms a need.

Whatever your style of writing, recognize that your reason for writing is the same as every other writer. Here’s the antidote: To avoid the aching bones, the emptiness inside, the reaching for food (or alcohol or drugs), sit down at least once a day and feed your need to write. Even if you write only a few lines or a few words, the balm of writing will work for you.

Whether you manage to turn out a bestselling novel or a movie of the week or a letter to the editor or an essay for your own amusement, or a story for your children, you can bask in the warmth of having written! Not everyone can; not everyone wants to. You are special.

Copyright ©2005 Val Dumond


About Val Dumond

VAL DUMOND is a writer who is enamored with words and putting them together to tell stories. Trained as a journalist, she also managed an advertising agency and public relations business. She has taught writing classes for many years and now focuses on her own writing, editing for other writers, and helping writers publish their books. She owns Muddy Puddle Press, where most of her books are published. Her favorite writing theme is historical fiction: She has done what-ifs for Klondike Kate — Queen of the Yukon, and the unlucky pilot who in 1933 tried and failed to be the first to fly solo across the Pacific. She also did a what-if about the status of women at a bank where she once was overworked and underpaid. (Kate received a new love interest at the age of 70; the pilot received a second chance at his heart's desire 50 years later; and the women of the bank rebelled enough to improve their wages and place women on the Board of Directors.) See: SUGAR, SPICE, AND STONE; WHEN ROOSTERS FLY; and A LITTLE REBELLION…. But Val's grammar books are the ones that draw attention. Her latest, AMERICAN-ENGLISH—The Official Guide (written for writers), is a culmination of five other books about language she has written. This new book urges writers to develop their own writing style by creating their own Style Manual, composed of preferences among the many choices that American-English provides. In it, she uses examples of uses for the various parts of language and punctuation, sets aside a section that's full of writing tips, includes a glossary and index for easy access to language solutions.
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