The Group You Land In

by limebirdamber

I think most people can be split into those who could be a writer and writers.

You’re reading our site, so I’m just going to assume you have a love for the written word, and maybe even want to write your own stories someday. Or maybe you are already writing them. That’s great and wonderful, and all, but there’s a distinction I’m going to make right now. I hope you take the message in the spirit it’s offered.

You, and me, we’re going to fall into one of two groups: Writers, and people who want to be Writers. Writerwanas, if you use the word I made up just now. Writers write, even when they don’t want to. Writerwanas will talk to you about their characters or worlds or spell out in every detail the plot to the next New York Time’s Best Seller they’re going to write, but will have no words to the idea.

It’s fun to talk about the idea you have. Moreso than fun, it’s easy and you get the same accomplished feeling. Our brain doesn’t differentiate between doing the work, and talking about doing the work. It releases the same cuddly chemical.

You get high off the lazy way enough, and it becomes worthless to work out the hard parts. Don’t become addicted to an easy chemical.

So, how to avoid the pitfalls of this? How to become a Writer instead of a WriterWana? Be writing something, all the time. Don’t talk too much about an idea you haven’t fleshed out.

One way I’ve avoided this, even during the time I haven’t been writing, is shame. Shame is actually a really nice motivator. People in my real life have known I wrote, knew I finished, and I knew I’d stalled in my edits. So I was never in a hurry to bring it up, because inevitably I’d have to explain “Oh uh… Yeah I haven’t been working as hard… It’s been about two months, yea….” Not wanting to feel that shame has kept me knowing I would come home to my story, and kept me from talking too much.

So as my life has honestly been tumultuous for the majority of the time I haven’t written, and while things haven’t completely calmed down, they have enough for me to take shallow breaths. So, I’m here, writing this to you. But, also to myself. So that I don’t forget the promises I’ve made, and that I don’t forget the reason I write.

What group do you fall into?

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35 Comments to “The Group You Land In”

  1. Great post. I always find it amazing when I mention that I write how many people tell me that they could easily write a book if they wanted to. Actually, I don’t mention it often because of this, I work hard at writing and it can be depressing when people talk about it in such a way, even if they never actually write anything.

    • Thanks for coming by and talking with me. 🙂 I know how bad that feeling is. I didn’t like talking about writing as much with those people, especially when I was in my peak of working. It hurt more, because some of these people I talked to had been in my writing classes, I’d seen their work, and I knew how much talent they had. They let fear stop the talent. I hated to see it, and I brought it up less.

    • What a story you have in you. You need to give yourself credit for what you’re doing, surviving a stroke and still moving forward, reteaching yourself in your new state, what you once loved. If you didn’t love it, and it love you back, I don’t think you’d fight as hard. Don’t get down. People quit long before things like strokes happen to them, but you kept on going.

  2. Oh gosh I’m a writerwana through and through. I never finish anything, it’s terrible. I think I’ll stick to editing! 😉 B

  3. Amber, I was a WriterWana for most of my life — always wished to have already published my first book. But when I started blogging, I moved into the Writer Group — I had so many things to say, all of which had piled up in my heart and my brain, and blogging was my route to daily writing. Now, I force myself to write, on days when I am blocked, about being blocked — this usually leads to some other topic of much greater interest. I cannot imagine myself returning to my former state — my laziness would be served, but in order to be happy, I have to write. Thanks for reminding me of the difference.

    • I’m glad the reminder helped you, Judith. Writing during the blocks is an important part of the process, one that stops a lot of people. That you work through it is great, and I’m glad you do it. Because you’ve found the secret. Writing when you’re blocked is the way to unblock yourself, because you find the thing that you’re interested in at that moment.

  4. I don’t know which group I fall into because I do write every day, in journals, but I don’t “publish”. I suppose that makes me a WriterWana, but I hate to think that because I do work hard at it. I do Morning Pages (Julia Cameron’s instruction) and other writing exercises. I just don’t DO anything with them other than blogs. I write to enjoy the process and work things through, not to create a finished product.

    • I don’t think you fall into the Wana group, love. 🙂 You’re writing, whether blogs or journals, or just for you, and that’s what writers do. Publishing comes later. When I’m writing like that, I feel like a writer. And, I’ve not been published yet, either. 😉 I think finding that finished project will come to you. Don’t be afraid of succeeding!

      • Thanks, Amber! 🙂
        Those who are “really published” (as opposed to “self-published”) often seem to consider themselves a step above. 🙂

      • I have words for that type that I can’t use in this, which I consider my professional place. 😉 Self-pubbing is just as hard, if not harder, than traditional methods. I have just as much respect for both tiers. Self-pubbing has the image every writer knows, but that image is changing. The attitude that traditional makes you a better writer will continue as long as people use this. If something that started out as bad Twilight fanfiction* can be turned into a series of novels, then well, both tiers are in the same boat.

        *No offense to fans this series, I just know how it started, and how badly it reflects a certain community.

  5. I think it can come in stages too. A little over a year ago I was definitely a writer – working like crazy on the edits of my 3rd completed book and sending out queries for the 2 finished ones like crazy. But right now I’m a writerwana because we’ve been through such an incredibly hard year (our daughter passed away last April) that all my energy has been sucked from me and other than finishing up a few edits on that 3rd book, I haven’t touched a single thing since last April. So I wana write, I just have to work back up to it & I’m getting there. I guess my point is not to beat yourself up too much or think you’re not a writer just because you hit upon rough times and can’t handle it for a while.

    • Oh Julia. I’m so sorry for your loss. Take your time to grieve, your mind knows what you need, even if you don’t. Don’t feel bad over the times you take to heal. As your mind gets a little more clear, your writing will too, and you’ll be able to always remember your baby girl through this medium. Get yourself well, and don’t beat yourself up.

  6. I wholeheartedly agree with this, Amber. And I think that it’s easy to switch tribes, so to speak, if we really put our hearts and souls into it. When I quit writing a long time ago, I would consider myself a writerwana, because even though I wasn’t physically writing, I was still imagining and creating stories in my mind. I was so unhappy as a writerwana that I worked hard to get back to the writing tribe. I’m much happier now. 🙂

    • Oh yes, Kate. We can all switch over from Writerwanas to Writers, and all it takes is, dun dun dun, writing these stories down! I think that once you get a taste of the writing feeling, I don’t think you can ever be satified from only thinking about it again. I can’t, at least. I’ve never forgotten the accomplished feeling, the screaming as I finished drafts. As long as the stories exist that you want to tell, they’ll eventually bleed over until you can’t not write. 😉 I’m so glad you’re happier. Happy is good!

  7. I am part writer, part wanna. I write full time for work, but when it comes to all the fantastic and brilliant (of course!) creative ideas I have, the “wanna” wins. At least until I can quit writing full time so I can write full time, if you know what I mean.

  8. I know a couple of people who have loads of ideas. Talk about the plots and characters, but never write. I have to force myself to write some days, but I try to do some, even if it’s only a couple of hundred words. Keeps everything ticking over.

    • Every word counts. Don’t think in terms of “only” or “just”. Every step is a step ahead, even when you have to go backwards. As long as you’re moving, you’ll finish.

  9. I fall in the writer category. I have so much fiction written – I mean actually finished, and awaiting only a final polish or cut or edit before it can be published. That’s why I finally started to self-publish – I didn’t want all that to die when I do. I do have some unfinished material and a lot of unwritten stuff in my head. But at the moment the publishing and promotion of what is actually completed has to take precedence.

    • Lorinda, you do what you have to, and win. 🙂 Precedence and time do matter, but don’t let your stories stay inside too long. They miss the light. Don’t ever strain yourself, at the same time. Fine lines and balance and the like. Good luck in everything.

  10. I break my own promises too much. I get these ideas then I never work on them. I need something that will just smack me in the head daily lol.

  11. I definitely see myself as a writer!

    I didn’t manage to complete my long list of tasks that I set for myself for February, but I did manage to publish my third book, so it was still a success.

    Still submitting stories and poems, but now I know that, if they don’t fit the publication that I send them to, they can always be a part of book five (book four is novel number two and is already in draft two).

    This month I have been researching and writing blog posts for April’s “Blogging from A to Z” so it’s weird, have written eight long articles and all of them are still in limbo.

    I still haven’t got through that psychological barrier though, when people ask what I do I talk about my career to date rather than saying “I’m a writer!”.

    • I hesitated over my income tax this year, over the slot where you put your occupation. I started to enter “Writer” for the first time, but at the last minute I chickened out and put in what I always put in: “Retired”!

    • Start saying it already, man. 🙂 I completely think that you deserve to. You’re working your butt off, so kick that wall down. Or, if you’d rather, use a sledgehammer. Whatever it takes. I know you’ll figure out a place for your stories.

      Though it seems like you already know, too. Plans are good, keep making them. 🙂

  12. Ooh, those WriterWannas can give a WriterActual angst.

    I got an anecdote to prove it. Take a look if you wish: http://mikeallegra.com/2013/01/14/the-prose-poseur/

    • I suppose it depends, in the end. The ideas I have, I know how important that identity must have been to this woman. While it’s sad to think of what she may have gone through in the immediate, maybe in the end it did help. Even if she would have only gotten around to writing to spite you, it would have been alright, right?

      • Oh, absolutely. Spite is a powerful motivator (though, I think, only a short-term one). Had she used spite to fuel a writing binge, however, I think she would’ve attended the next meeting to show off the fruits of her labor.

        I don’t know what happened to Becky, but, based on her motivation and relatively thin skin, I suspect she has probably put her publishing dreams aside. If this is the case, I do hope she continues to write for herself. The Writing Life isn’t just about books, after all; it’s about the need express yourself through words.

      • Very true. I hope she found something good after all of that. 🙂

  13. Oh dear, I think I know which category I fall into (sob!). My problem is that I want to write but some how worry too much about whether my ideas are worth writing about, so I don’t!. I almost envy the wannabes who have the idea but do nothing about it!!!!

  14. I like that you make a distinction between Writers who work at it and Writerwanas who just talk about it. There’s no implication for publishing or being successful – just the writing. That’s a great message to send, especially for those of us who simply want to share stories, not necessarily make money or get a publishing deal.

    “Shame” has such ugly connotations, though. It feels like fear, and I don’t think we should be afraid to write, or be browbeaten into it. Writing can be a compulsion, in some ways, but I prefer to think of it as us honoring the stories inside us which need to be told.

    I’ve never felt shame for my characters or my stories. I’ve felt a deep responsibility to tell their stories, and tell them well.

    I’d say, don’t shame yourself into writing. Instead, apply your energies and commit yourself to your writing. Finish. You can share it, or not; that’s your decision. But don’t bow your head when you write. Lift it up. You’re doing the work. You should feel proud of that.

    • Thanks, Mayumi. I’m glad you noticed that it didn’t have anything to do with publishing, and everything to do with the act.

      I don’t guess shame was the right word to use for everyone. Shame shares very ugly meanings and ideas, yes. But I see shame and guilt work together to make interesting things happen in myself.

      I’ve also been filling my brain with lots of philo-psycho-sophical (another new word, I hope it comes across right, basically it’s writings that cover philosophical and psychological theories) ideas that I don’t completely understand, but it’s changing the way I think The author touches on narcissism, shame, and guilt, a lot.

      So, summarize this long point: guilt and shame urge me into working harder and more, because I don’t like those feelings, so to me, they’re not always so bad.

      Trust me, I do feel very prideful when I look at a complete piece. 🙂 ❤

  15. I don’t think everyone is really “meant” to be a writer. But because anyone can put words on paper (or type them into a Word doc), people think it should be easy to write a book. To quote a couple of published authors I heard speak at a convention a while back, “the idea is the easy part.”

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