For me, the writing life consists of invitation, community, and outlet. We will explore each of these facets this month, beginning with “invitation.”
As I mentioned previously, I came to the writing life early, thanks to teachers who offered opportunities for me to do so. All I needed was an invitation. I firmly believe that the right invitation will inspire writing.
Early in my career, I applied for and was admitted into a writing community called the National Writing Project, which supports teachers as they strive to improve their own writing and offer solid writing instruction to their students. I spent a summer within this writing community, which provided me with daily creative inspiration – writing prompts, demonstrations, writing time, feedback, etc. Once the project ended, I took the tools I acquired to my classroom and shared them with the young writers there, and they eagerly devoured them. Soon, my silver tray was empty, and the writers, like I, were still hungry. This was long ago, before the internet was widely accessible in American classrooms, so I did what learners used to do: I went to the bookstore.
I was very pleasantly surprised to see that the big city bookseller contained a section for writing reference. Within about five minutes, I had spent $100 of my own salary (teachers do this every single day) on books that offered page after page of writing prompts. Some of the books I bought that day are still my “go to” texts when I lead a group of writers. While the books are over a decade old, the concepts never expire. There is no deadline by which the writer must RSVP.
My favorites include:
Discovering the Writer Within: The 40-Day Writer’s Workshop by Barry Lane and Bruce Ballenger
A Writer’s Book of Days: A Spirited Companion and Lively Muse for the Writing Life by Judy Reeves
Room to Write by Bonni Goldberg
Writing Your Life: Putting Your Past on Paper by Lou Willett Stanek, Ph.D.
My copies of these texts are well-loved. Well-worn. Coffee stained. Fully annotated. Irreplaceable. I can’t tell you the number of meaningful writing pieces have come to life thanks to the tried-and-true techniques within these texts.
Nowadays, you have many options — whether you choose to obtain them from an online vendor, a urban brick-and-motor bookseller, or your local independent book merchant, I encourage you to RSVP to the invitation texts such as these provide. Doing so will help you “Live Like a Writer.”