Living the Writer’s Life -Sliding Otter News

Joe's Work Desk

Joe’s Work Desk

He is careful of what he reads, for that is what he will write.
He is careful of what he learns, for that is what he will know.

~Annie Dillard~

Last Saturday night I attended a party as the culmination of the Woodward Library Summer Reading Program. I read a couple of my old favorites, Jack London’s White Fang and Michael Crichton’s Prey. I also read Bob Dylan’s and Woody Guthrie’s accounts of themselves and their lives. I stepped into an Amish romance and science fiction about regenerating body parts.

I also ventured into new waters and stretched myself, delving into new reading adventures. At the same time I was busy formatting my books for ebook distribution, studied Nancy Kress’s book, Dynamic Characters, dusted off an aging manuscript and started a new book collection of columns such as this one.

Writing this down, I suddenly knew where my time went over the past couple weeks. A friend wondered where I got my recent energy. I can’t account for it but am glad it arrived when it did. Immersing myself in reading and writing stirs my creative energy and keeps me moving ahead. A far cry from my first high school writing assignment which I considered a form of torture.

I started writing seriously for my own amusement. Then I wrote as a marketing effort. As I moved into middle age, I started wondering about my experiences and those of people I encountered. I found that writing about adventures (of others and my own) helped me make sense of them and gave me a framework in which to begin understanding the world and its inhabitants, myself included.

Along the way I have spent years following Thoreau’s advice to start each day with a list of things which give me a sense of gratitude and Julia Cameron’s suggestion of writing three pages a day about whatever comes to mind. Both have helped me with my writing, the first is keeping a positive attitude and the second with honoring my creativity.

So now what? Am I going to suggest that everyone become a writer? No. Some people think they could write a book if they only had the time. Others would like to write but never put pen to paper. Still others acknowledge that they could never write anything of substance. I don’t know which if any of these people are right. I do know that you never know if you don’t try.

Even if you don’t aspire to write a great novel, writing might help you gain some perspective on your life and the world around you. On a smaller scale, you might get to know yourself a little better and might learn to pay more attention to what is going on in your life. Why not give it a try?

Life Lab Lessons

  • At night or in the morning, write down what made you feel grateful over the past day.
  • Write someone a letter rather than a text or email.
  • Write a love note to someone you love.
  • When you feel down, write about how you feel.
  • When you feel up, write about that too.


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