Making Time to Write in the Real World

20 thoughts on “Making Time to Write in the Real World”

  1. How brilliantly insightful! I never looked at it like that before.

    Does that make me lucky for having the opposite happen? I was pulled out of school very early and never received praise for my writing efforts until strangers started to look at my work, many, many years later.

    Maybe that’s why I’m so dedicated and so determined in what I do. I love it, but only now am I getting the praise. I’m loving that, too, of course.

    Thank you, you’ve given me something to think about. 🙂

      1. Thank you, Claire. I find this whole aspect fascinating. I know I am a better writer for having a tough start (than I would have been otherwise) because I’ve made use of those emotions that comes with disappointment. That hasn’t stopped me occasionally thinking, “Had I stayed in school, I might have become a doctor instead.”

        This makes me think perhaps we all end up exactly where we are supposed to end up. And that we all hunger after praise!

        Cheers to you. 🙂

      2. That’s really admirable and awesome that you used your tough start to become a better writer– I love that.

        I think everyone wonders what would have happened if things had gone differently. Reminds me of this poem by Tomas Transtromer which Cheryl Strayed quotes in Tiny Beautiful Things: “We do not actually know it, but we sense it: our life has a sister vessel which plies an entirely different route.”

        Cheers to you, too! 🙂

      3. Ah-ha – but if we go that way, we may indeed be all things (multiple potentials/multiple universes), which may or may not be a scary thought. 🙂

        As for drawing upon the negatives, don’t all writers use what is inside them – good and bad? We can trigger in our readers many emotions accidentally, but if we want some control over where we are taking them, we have to know it ourselves. We can’t express what we can’t feel.

  2. I needed to hear that tonight, because I’ve been spoiled too. Now I wonder if rewarding children or young adults with praise is actually harmful in the long run? I think that explains why I don’t work as hard at the things I’m good at now – because I don’t have that constant praise.

    You’re just up the road from me. Are you involved at all in Central Coast Writers, or another CWC group?

    1. Gosh, that’s an interesting question. As far as I’ve seen from reading acknowledgements sections in novels and dedication pages, pretty much all writers have someone behind them, cheering them on; I think writing is one of those things that it incredibly hard to succeed at without any encouragement. But it’s also hard to do without a lot of intrinsic motivation. I think you probably need the right balance of both. (I bet there are many other people who could explain this more effectively.)

      Just anecdotally, though, I know I wouldn’t gotten as far as I have if it weren’t for all the people who have encouraged and helped me along the way. Also, I wouldn’t imagine that withholding praise would be particularly constructive (although I think it could result in many my-parents-were-mean-type memoirs).

      Anyway, I think it’s completely possible to re-train yourself to become more intrinsically motivated. That’s what I’m working on now, and I think it’s going really well!

      I didn’t know about CCW until you told me about it! Thank you for mentioning it! I was just checking out their website– it seems like a great group to become involved in. How is it going for you?

      1. Sorry for the late response. I was in CCW for about 6 months, and then let my membership lapse. It’s a nice group of people, but I just didn’t find the kindred spirits like I thought I would. I think it’s missing a big opportunity to get younger people involved, but I couldn’t make the commitment to become active enough to make any changes. I’m considering going again, to see if there are new faces. What about you? Have you found groups, or other writers to commiserate… I mean, support? 😉

      2. Hahaha. Thanks for the reply! It’s great to find out more about CCW. For the past 3 years, I’ve been part of an amazing writers’ society at UCSC, where we workshopped each other’s stuff each week. I loved it, and now that I’ve graduated, I miss it tons– but I do plan on visiting. It’s so rewarding to be a part of a group you really connect with. They gave a lot of great support and criticism. All my best college memories are with that group and those people.

        Also, I’ve been an ML for Nanowrimo for Santa Cruz for the past few years, which is the best thing ever. I love Nanowrimo people so much. It’s not the same as a workshopping group, but it’s extremely wonderful to meet cool, supportive people.

        So I guess I’m kind of in between groups at the moment– but I do want to have a workshopping group again. I just need to figure it out 🙂

    2. I read an article recently (can’t find it now, but there are several out there) that talked about some studies on praise. When children were praised for their intelligence, they were less likely to be motivated and ultimately failed more often later. But children who were praised for their effort were more motivated and did well (on tests, projects, in their grade, etc.), because they were more likely to put effort into everything they did, rather than just relying on some natural intelligence.

      So it seems that it depends on what kind of praise we get! Like Claire said, in college, we were told pretty constantly by our peers that we were good writers. But that’s probably not the praise we needed — or wanted. I always felt more satisfied when people pointed out specific things that I worked hard on. Like, “This was a great sentence,” or “I like how you set this part up.” Stuff that takes work. Not “Your prose is beautiful.” That’s never what I wanted to hear, and it certainly wasn’t useful in my process of becoming a better writer.

      1. That sounds like a really interesting article! That’s a really profound idea that what type of praise kids get matters. I tend to lump all types of praise together, but what you’re saying makes so much sense. I should research this more!

        I agree– when people say specific positive things about my stories, I always remember that more than when they say vague positive things. And it’s the same with criticism– it there’s a specific critique, it’s so much more helpful and easier to remember than a vague, “Can you try to write it again, except this time, better?” And in a way, specific criticism IS actually encouraging, because it shows that the reader is invested in your work.

  3. Since I graduated from college in 2011 I’ve missed it terribly and now I know why haha. Having that reassurance from my professors and peers really helped me blossom as a writer but learning to live without it has actually been really good for me. I’ve found my true voice and am learning every day how to hear it over the others, and every day I do, it seems to be getting stronger.

    1. That’s great to hear! I feel the same way– all that encouragement really helped me a lot, and now, figuring our how to encourage myself is helping a lot 🙂

  4. I know exactly how you feel Claire! EXACTLY! I think I mostly just miss being around other writers, who can read something I wrote and understand what kind of work went into it. Haha, we are so spoiled.

    1. Ahhh, I am so glad I’m not alone!!! Workshops are the best! I’m going to figure out how to get one going here. I miss all the fun of reading each other’s work and responding to it.

  5. What a wonderful post Claire!
    I can completely relate to what you wrote– and you inspired me to really push myself to write every day!
    So glad to see you are still writing because you are truly talented! And I’m sure “gold stars” will come in the form of literary awards and book deals in the near future!
    – Laurel

    1. Laurel! Thanks so much for all your kind words! This made my day! 🙂

      I am so glad that you are still writing, too! I always enjoy reading your stories and poems.

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