In which a professional writer asks, “I actually have to write during working hours? Whaaaaa?”

Writing between the hours of 9 and 5 is really difficult for me. And it’s taken me six years as a professional, full-time writer to recognize that it’s sort of a problem.

How it has always worked before is that I spent the almighty Designated Working Hours doing all of the writing tasks that are not writing: emailing, scheduling interviews, conducting interviews, editing, researching, invoicing, etc., etc. Actual writing was reserved for the couch, after hours or on the weekends. So that’s what I did.

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Some Things I Know: Navigating the journey of writing memoir

WARNING: No matter who you are, or what your intentions were when you sat down to write, you will not be the same at the end of your memoir. You will be changed by the writing of your own story. And your story, in turn, will be changed as well.

Writing so deeply and personally about who you have been and what has happened to you changes your perspective on so many things. Perhaps the most impactful of these changes is how you view yourself after the awkward and enlightening experience of crafting the character of yourself in an honest way. This forces us to be (hopefully) more honest than we’re used to being with ourselves.

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My Favorite Wows: The parts of the writing process I live for

Writing is the best. But as anyone who writes for a living will tell you, it also can be the worst. The deadlines! The word counts! The interviews that seemed fine at the time but have no decent quotes! Writing as a profession means composing through sleeplessness, idealessness and cleverlessness. It can be monotonous.

These things sometimes distract from the wonder that is the writing process. And is it a truly amazing wonder. Crafting a piece of work, using only brain juice and finger power, that can move people, inspire them, entertain or even change someone, is a sort of miracle. Most weeks I write between seven and ten stories, and believe me, they almost all feel like miracles by the end. This is due to a series of tiny, brilliant moments that happen during the writing process. No matter what kind of -lessness one is writing through, these stages in the process begin to happen, and you’re in it. You’re wowed. You’re part of a miracle.

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The Joy of Waiting

I’m about to have an idea. Don’t ask me how I know it, I just do, and I’m super excited about it. I’m also about to have a nephew, and my vocabulary isn’t deep enough to express how thrilled I am about his new human who is about to be my favorite human who has ever existed. I’m actually excited about a number of pending things, which shouldn’t be an unusual thing to confess, except that it is. Because it’s not just that I’m excited about things that I’m waiting for, but also that I’m actually enjoying waiting for them. And that is new.

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Writing words that matter: “Everyone needs a god who looks like them”

I recently became the last person on the planet to read Sue Monk Kidd’s Secret Life of Bees, and fell in love with it in a way I haven’t fallen in love with a book in a long time. It was like discovering The Great Gatsby again for the first time, or To Kill a Mocking Bird, or A Prayer for Owen Meany. It became one of my favorite books, even before I’d read the last page.
As a writer, these experiences of falling in love with a book are particularly overwhelming. Not only is there excitement, infatuation and enjoyment, but also aspiration. I want to write like this. I want to make readers feel this way.

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Everything But the Writing

During a recent presentation to college students about entrepreneurship in the arts, I asked the class what they thought a freelance writer did with her time all day. Their guesses included “thinking about character development” and “writing,” and bless their hearts, that would be amazing. But as any freelance writer can attest, the business of pitching stories, research, contacting sources, waiting for sources to call back and interviewing sources takes up the bulk of one’s life. So much, in fact, that I often (or, rather, daily) find myself with this problem: I feel so accomplished by the time I finally hang up the phone after an interview call, that I’m all, “Done! I’m finished! Let’s go fishing or whatever!”

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