about writing and life and God

How to be encouraged

on January 3, 2013
Not my door, but a nice shiny letterbox!

Not my door, but a nice shiny letterbox!

Life’s gone quiet for my letterbox. No more Christmas cards (or round robin letters). Only the odd stray posted late with a second class stamp or a New Year’s card. But this morning, beautifully timed, the new edition of Writing Magazine plopped onto the welcome mat.

I can’t remember when I first encountered it. Some time in the 70s I think. It may have been called The Writer’s Magazine then and it was a small A5, almost amateurish production. But to a young wannabe writer it was fire and inspiration and dynamite.

And it’s never stopped.

I wrote for it in the 1990s: ‘How not to get published’, ‘You cannot be serious – how not to be taken seriously as a writer’, ‘Getting it together – a step-by-step guide to compiling an anthology’, and so on. Then, as they say, life took over and my writing life focused on producing the non-fiction books that nice publishers had commissioned – so much more secure than writing fiction on spec.

But I still feel that buzz of excitement when Writing Magazine arrives. Who knows what irresistible opportunity it will present? What key ingredient for the next project? What new spark to light my writing touchpaper and set me off, once more, along the yellow brick road of adventure?

And along with the delights, there are guaranteed to be other spurs to the sides of my occasionally reluctant writer-self. These are the interviews and examples of other writers – especially the younger writers, those who seem to have appeared Aphrodite-like in print straight from the womb as it were. Each story contains an invisible interactive element: a kind of sharp stick that prods me and makes me think ‘If they can do it, surely so can I!’ and gets me back to the keyboard.

Writers need encouragement. We’re fragile flowers and don’t need sharp frosts or clumsy hob-nailed boots trampling over us or our vulnerable ideas. Critique groups which learn to praise first and only then offer constructive input are the only ones worth being part of.

But we also need nudging. Writers are also readers and sometimes it’s too easy to just give up on writing our own book and read someone else’s! New temptations to non-writing are Facebook and Twitter (and maybe the blog?).

Just as it is not physically possible to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps, so it is difficult to encourage ourselves all the time. Locating the people and the websites and the blogs and the Facebook groups and the magazines and the books that inspire us and keep us going are parts of the jigsaw puzzle that comprises the happy and successful writer’s life.

I pray that God will bless you this year with all of these in abundance, perfectly tuned to your needs!


One response to “How to be encouraged

  1. Cathy Powell says:

    This is so true Dorothy. I love Writing Magazine. Hopefully my new subscription copy may arrive in my letter box today 🙂

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