Are you a writer?

For years, I identified myself as anything but a writer. Poet (and later, editor) was as close as I got to admitting writing could be an important part of what I did.  photo of my laptop computer on a picnic table outsideWhy? I was a reluctant writer.

A writer is any person who uses words on paper (or nowadays, on screen) to communicate. You may be a forced or reluctant writer, only putting words on paper for assignments. You may joyfully embrace writing as a significant aspect of what you do. Or you may fall somewhere between these two extremes. But if you don’t think of yourself as a writer even when you do a lot of writing, you probably fall on the reluctant end of the writing spectrum.

What causes reluctant writing? I’ve given this much thought, having been a reluctant writer myself. Indeed, I was in my 30s before I realized that I was a writer, not just a poet or editor. Once I recognized that, I could also admit not only that I wrote well, but that writing could be fun. My conclusion on reluctant writers? Like many aversions, reluctant writing is a learned response to early experience.

I must state before writing further that I harbor no ill-will to elementary teachers anywhere. I learned to spell, to create sentences and paragraphs and to organize my thoughts thanks to elementary teachers (and my parents, but that’s another important story, for another day). What I didn’t learn was to enjoy the process.

For me as a child, the not-enjoyable part centered on the mechanics. I was not a fluent printer or writer. To this day, neat and clean handwriting remains a chore. Typing on a typewriter (when I reached high school) just switched the chore to retyping whole pages whenever I mistyped something, to get clean copy to hand in.

It should come as no surprise, then, to learn that my epiphany about being a writer came after the proliferation of personal computers and, specifically, the entrance of PCs into my own personal home. But even after getting a computer and beginning my freelance writing career, I still thought of writing as something I did “on assignment.”

Which is not to say I only wrote when being paid for writing. I’m told I’ve created poetry since before I knew what writing was or how to form letters. (Mercifully, none of my early poetry survives. I suspect most of it was childish doggerel that only a grandmother could love.) And I’ve kept journals off-and-on since high school.

I think the change came for me when I realized that the whole take notes, make an outline, write framework my teachers enforced was not my only option. That it was meant as an aid to composition, not a straitjacket I had to wear even when it got in the way. Free at last!

My goal as a writing coach is to move other people from the “reluctant” beginning to the “joyful” end of the writing spectrum. Two core beliefs drive this process: that you can be a better writer than you think you can and that you can enjoy writing more than you think you can.  I help my clients figure out what makes writing not-fun for them, and realize not only what they have trouble with … but what they already do well.

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About Susan NC Price

Writing coach Susan NC Price has been a poet all her life and an editor for half her life, but only realized in her late 30s that she enjoyed writing all sorts of prose as well. The twin epiphanies of word processing and realizing she no longer had teachers forcing her to use their style of outlining outlines contributed to her late-blooming love of writing. Susan has 1 prizewinning short story, 2 grown writer sons, 3 current e-newsletters she maintains and a host of writing projects to her credit. She's currently working to develop new writers through her coaching endeavor: re/Write: Scribbles to Stories (see Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/ReWrite-Scribbles-to-Stories).
This entry was posted in communicating, ideas, nonfiction, rules, writing coach and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Are you a writer?

  1. Therunwriter says:

    The epiphany of knowing you’re a writer is liberating. You write, you love to write, you will never stop, I feel that can’t be called anything but a writer.

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