by Allie Boniface
I am a writer.
There, I’ve said it. Out loud. In person. To a stranger on the subway (well, maybe not).
Those four words haven’t come easy for me, though I’ve been scribbling away at story ideas for most of my life. Until about a year ago, I never said them at all. Oh, “I enjoy writing” or “I have a novel I’m working on” might have slipped out in casual conversation. But I never defined myself as a “writer” until recently.
Here is what I’ve discovered: whether you write for publication, for escape, or for fun, whether you write every day or a few days every month, you are in fact a writer. Embrace that title. Cherish it. Defend it. Most important, make time for it. Three things you must do:
1. Make a space for yourself. It doesn’t matter if that space is a corner of your living room, a rickety desk below a basement window, or the spare bedroom cluttered with leftover stuffed animals. Clear things away, arrange your computer/your notepad and pens/your books filled with writing prompts and inspiration, and make it your own. Set up something that inspires you: a picture, a letter from a loved one, a candle. This is the place you’ll go to create. This is the place that belongs to you when you write, even if it means packing it up when the rest of the family comes home or the in-laws sleep over. This space makes you a writer.
2. Make time for yourself. Decide how much time you can devote to writing each day/each week/each month. It might vary. It might not be as much as you’d like, at first. But everyone can find time. Get up 30 minutes earlier in the mornings. Ask your spouse or a friend to watch the kids for 20 minutes in the evening. Give up a television show and use that hour to write instead. Make some coffee and stay up when the rest of the house goes to bed. But find time in your day and commit to it. This time makes you a writer.
3. Make rules for the rest of them. Lay some ground rules for anyone who’s around when you’re writing. One writer used to tell her kids, right before she locked herself in her office, “Unless there’s blood or fire, don’t interrupt me.” Make your writing time sacred. Do not allow interruptions. Set up a plan where your kids will start dinner or do their homework while you write. Or agree to have lunch with your co-workers on Tuesdays and Thursdays so that lunch breaks on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays are devoted to your writing. These rules make you a writer.
You do not need a million dollar advance, a byline, a publisher, or even a finished story to be a writer. If you have the heart, the desire, and the discipline to set down words and explore new worlds, then you are a writer. Period.
About the Author: Allie Boniface is a romance novelist and high school English teacher living with her husband in the northern New York City suburbs. She’s had a soft spot for love stories and happy endings since the time she could read, and she’s been caught scribbling story ideas on scrap paper (when she should have been paying attention to something else) too many times to count. When she’s not writing, shoveling snow, or grading papers, she’s traveling the United States and Europe in search of sunshine, back roads, and the perfect little pub. Visit Allie’s website to find out release dates and all the latest news, or hear what’s on her mind today at her blog.