This summer, members of The Society of Midland Authors were invited to contribute short essays on why we write to the Write Across Chicago project. Write Across Chicago is a month-long October initiative for Chicagoans of all ages to discover the joy of writing. Experienced writers, novice writers, confident writers, and tentative writers are all invited to meet in small writing groups in libraries, businesses, schools, churches, community centers, and other locations throughout the city. My essay, "On Writing," was included in the project, and I wanted to share it here in hopes of inspiring others to participate!:
There are so many different kinds of talents to have, and we all have at least one. My talent happens to be writing.
I have anxiety that needs managing daily. I also have the restless desire to reach out and take part in the world around me as much and as often as possible. Writing and sharing what I write help me to fulfill both of those needs. Sometimes it may feel like a private or solitary effort, but writing can provide us with a solid sense of place and purpose.
I try to write a little bit each day, mostly in the morning before work or during the day on my lunch breaks. I happen to be a morning person, but many creative types are also night owls who do all of their best work in the late to wee hours. I might pick up a pen and paper, type out a short poem or thought into the Reminders app on my phone, or, ideally, hammer out something great (well, to me, at least) on my laptop.
Sometimes I also schedule a little daytime retreat for myself, often at home or at a local café, where I can sit down and write continuously for hours and hours. It really depends on whether I am working on a single haiku, a short story, or compiling an entire book. Most importantly, I find the time to make writing happen.
Very luckily, I have also found the right people and publishers to help me share it. Social media groups, pages, and websites geared toward new and emerging writers are great places to begin looking for information and a network of fellow writers and potential publishers. Everyone has to start somewhere, and everyone starts with many questions.
My advice for new writers is to find the people who write what you want to write, and connect with them. Learn the steps of both the writing and the publishing process. Take it slowly, be patient, and act professionally at all times. Don’t give up, don’t be afraid to make a mistake, and don’t be afraid to take an opportunity. This goes for whether you care to be a published author or not—sometimes, it takes all of the courage just to put words onto a blank page, even if just for yourself.
Take heart. I tell people this all the time: if I could do it, so can you.
"On Writing," copyright 2018 Amelia Cotter