“I don’t know what I think until I write it down.” — Joan Didion

a handwritten journal
Photo by Kiwihug on Unsplash

I want to write about my writing life. Or writing that is my life. Constantly present in many different forms.

I may not be a published author and not many people have ever seen my writing. But I am a writer.

I have submitted a few of my stories for publishing. I have written a few guest blog posts. But other than that, my writing has been completely private.

But it was not sporadic. In my private life, I am a prolific writer.

Journaling

I usually start my day with three pages of freehand Morning Pages (yes, like all writers I also read The Artist’s Way).

If I don’t wake up early enough to do the Morning Pages and avoid my kids interrupting my flow process, I just put together three pages of a regular stream of thought journaling whenever I can. While my stream mainly consists of ‘to do’ items and organizing items and who I need to call and when, it sometimes generates gems of profound personal exploration.

Occasionally I will write pages on topics such as “Why didn’t I travel more in my twenties” or “I waited for years to wear a miniskirt hoping that I would be skinnier sometime in the future and now I realize that my time to ever wear a miniskirt is definitely over.”

A woman journaling and drinking coffee
Photo by fotografierende on Unsplash

Fiction Escapism

Then there is my fiction writing. It started as a form of escapism.

I was ten when I realized that I can put pen to paper (it was 1987 so pen and paper was all there was) and create anything I want.

That realization alone gave the little girl in me unprecedented freedom. I wrote all the time. In notebooks and on loose pages of paper. In my bed at night under a dim light, whenever I was alone or lonely, and in the school library when the introvert in me needed a moment.

Mainly, I delved into characters. My heroine could have everything I didn’t have, such as curly, red hair, a voluptuous figure that she carried well, a dreamlike voice she used to impress unaware strangers at a karaoke bar and amazing cooking skills. In fact, she is one of those people who watches cooking shows, creates her own meals, cooks for friends out of pleasure and has her own Lifestyle blog that somehow, through no effort of her own, has thousands of kind and friendly followers.

She was not as sophisticated in 1987, of course. Her life changed as mine changed. She learned the lessons I learned and when shit happened to me, it also happened to her, in an exaggerated form. But she handled it so much better. And eight hundred (just a bit over) pages later, she is still there for me to whip out whenever I need to escape for a while.

It goes hand in hand with Toni Morrison’s advice:

“If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.”

I certainly did. And I read back through it often.

Ever since I discovered Scrivener a few years ago, I have these pages neatly lined up as scenes in one of the many projects I am currently working on.

A woman in a white dress fairytale
Photo by photo-nic.co.uk nic on Unsplash

Social Media Before Social Media

My first job as a ticketing agent for an airline in 1996 involved making a daily update to our local weather page on the company’s intranet. At first, I just added projected temperatures and the actual weather of the moment. But that quickly got too boring. So I started adding small stories to the page. Things that had happened to me on the way to work, or the night before, loosely weather-related.

I was nineteen years old at the time. Many dramatic things happened on a daily basis. I wasn’t aware that anyone was even reading it until I went on vacation and came back two weeks later to find dozens of messages from the airline’s Stations all over the world in my private queue all inquiring about what had happened to the stories they had all been following.

(This was before the Internet was on every workstation, before any social networking or smartphones, life was different back then)

That unexpected feedback got me to keep on tweeting (hey, yes, that is what it was!) until I moved on to another job a few years later.

Emails

Before Social Media, I used to write long, daily emails to one particular friend describing my life in detail. I still like to imagine that all those emails, hers, and mine will be of some interest to someone someday. Our kids perhaps. I kept them all because I am one of those people who keeps all her writing.

They represent years of daily entries that explore politics, opinions, events, heartbreaks, and whatever else was going on at the beginning of the century.

Memory Keeping

A picture of a black and white photo album
Photo by Laura Fuhrman on Unsplash

I am a memory keeper. I make photo books for each of our family’s travels, and one for capturing our life events over every year.

I capture our stories in photographs, mementos, and in writing. I keep them printed out and stored and I like knowing that they are there for posterity. Well, at least for as long as I am around. I usually store these little glimpses and notes that I write on a daily basis in Evernote while they are waiting for a copy-paste into a photobook.

Reading

I also write occasional book reports on Amazon and Goodreads. As a reader, I am impatient, especially with fiction, and I easily abandon books.

Photo by Pierre Bamin on Unsplash

Kindle made this easier for me than ever before. I always read the sample first. It’s easy, clean and time saving. You can delete the sample from ‘cloud and all devices’ as if it never happened. Keeps me organized.

As is the case for most writers, I am a prolific reader and to be that in the 21 century, you have to be in control of your time. I read anything, from literary fiction, sci-fi, fantasy, an occasional thriller to free Kindle books by indie writers to non-fiction on topics such as religion and atheism, social theory and law of attraction, rich and poor dad, minimalism, feminism, organizing, tiny house and sustainability, veganism and animal rights.

I log it all on Goodreads.

And Everything Else

Over the years, I wrote opinion pieces for newspapers, a few guest blog posts, essays for school, the final thesis for my Degree and countless memos and persuasive work letters, policies, and user guides at work.

And all of it combined is my writing life.

It is a part of me that will never be cast aside, as many of my hobbies get cast aside once I play with them for a while.

My writing life isn’t a hobby. It is what allows me to self-explore and make sense of my overly complicated, overly sensitive mind, one that needs constant grounding.

My writing grounds me.

25 Comments

  1. I love every line of this blog post. The section ‘social media before social media’ warms my heart. I hope people feel the same way about my writing, but I am gonna be realistic and manage my expectations on that front haha!

    1. Author

      Thank you so much! And yes, social media before social media 🙂 it was a lot simpler to stand out back then.

  2. OMG I love this post!!!!!!!! I am a writer and writing teacher, so very much inspired by life through a writer’s eyes. I loved reading about how storytelling is in everything you do! I like you! haha

  3. I love this post! I often ask myself questions like, why I haven’t gone on more adventures, and why I didn’t express my love more deeply to those who are no longer here on this earth. I also take photos of my family. I keep two journals that I write in. Later I will give them to my girls. It is so nice to be able to reflect on many things through writing. Thank you for sharing.

    1. Author

      A kindred spirit! Thank you for reading and so glad you can relate.

  4. I not only admire you for your talent as a writer but for keeping your works so well organised and journaling your life and special moments. That is something I really wish I had done as so much has gone missing due to moving and other major life events that happen. I hope you will consider collating and submitting your work for publication someday to share your writings more.

    1. Author

      Thank you so much, Nicole. I really appreciate your encouraging words. It means a lot!

  5. I absolutely loved this post, you beautifully expressed what I think a writer is. You don’t have to be published to tell a story or to be considered a writer. It isn’t a job, it’s a part of who you are! For me writing is everything, it gives me guidance, plays devil’s advocate, let’s me spiral into a world all my own without judging. It has always been there for me, through everything. Thank you for this post, it was truly inspiring and came to me at the perfect time!

    1. Author

      I am so glad you could relate! This really flowed out of me. I am a writer. I am a writer. And so are you.

  6. This was a great read. I’m a writer, although I’ve never finished anything, and I really love the feeling I get when I put something down on paper. I’m a voracious reader, as well, and those things definitely feed into one another.

  7. When you meet your purpose face to face, you know it was meant for you. Your work makes me want to keep reading. What an amazing post.

  8. Wow, this is such a great post. I love this. Eye-opening too. I love writing as it brings peace to me. It is also a way to express my feelings and I find I communicate better with others through writing.

  9. In the UK with the current restrictions in place it is nice to put pen to paper and reflect on thoughts through writing for sure.

  10. It’s really interesting to look back on life pre-social media as we know it, isn’t it? I think that was a great validation for you at that time – it showed that people were genuinely enjoying your content, even if it was a little unconventional. I love that it’s led you to where you are at now. We all have a story to tell, we just need to find our voice!

    1. Author

      Yes, that’s absolutely right. And yes, that was a great (organic) validation back then. Thank you for pointing it out. And appreciate your comment so much.

  11. very interesting to see your journey. I am a writer’s wife and it’s curious to see how much you two have in common

    1. Author

      Yes, I do find it interesting how we all relate to each other.

  12. I am always interested in how writers work, and spend their time. Journaling seems to be a very common theme. This was such a fun read and a way to learn more about you.

  13. Wow such an interesting post and made me look back on the years that have passed by for me. From my college days I had this habit of scribbling my thoughts with the hope that someday I would make a story out of them. And then during my working years as I had the opportunity to travel a lot, every trip I would record with a page on the new things I experienced during that particular trip. You got me motivated to piece them all together and perhaps bring our a few books as a start.

    1. Author

      Thank you so much for reading and commenting, Roy. Yes, it is definitely worth making time to gather all your writing. You never know what could come out of it, but even if it doesn’t, it is your own private legacy after all.

  14. Writing is very therapeutic for me. it keeps me accountable and I love being able to express myself through writing! Thanks for sharing!

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