Sunday, May 16, 2010

Becoming a Writer

I've always wanted to be a writer. In first grade, I had a red diary with a lock. I actually wrote in it.

Think... what makes a six year old want to write down her daily activity and thoughts. It's a bit funny to me some forty years later, but it was the beginning of my destiny. A revelation of what was just "in" me.

For a long time I remembered the diary as a gift, but now that I think about it, I believe I purchased it on my own.

Don't panic if your story is not like mine. I know plenty of authors who didn't start writing until they were older. Several had reading disorders growing up, but overcame as they matured. Some still deal with dyslexia but have become successful novelist.

How you came to write a novel is your own complete journey. But now that you're here... what do you want to write? How do you know what to write about?

We've heard the saying over and over, "Write what you know." If that were the case, I'd be done after book one, my knowledge exhausted.

When I read "Write who you are," then I understood my stories are an extension of my heart, passions and life experiences. What I don't know, I can learn. AngelaHunt was never an embalmer's apprentice, but she wrote the Fairlawn series about one, about a woman who ran a funeral home. Research gave her the knowledge she needed.

Angie wrote a story that interested her and she was able to parlay that into a story that interested readers. She wrote about a character who embodied pieces of her passions.

I've never been a country songwriter, but I wrote a book about one. I'm a horrible songwriter. Everything rhymes with King, Thing and Ring. Or Love, Dove and Above. But after a lot of research, I learned how to become a Nashville songwriter.

Book after book, I ask myself, "What do I want to write?" I counsel with the Lord, my husband, editor and agent. And of course the spunky Susan May Warren.

Then I look at myself. What do I like. Who am I? What kind of movies, books, people am I drawn to the most?

I love romantic comedies. I love romance and family saga stories. I'm drawn to people who have a positive passion about life. I love justice and truth. When I speak with other people, I want to encourage them in God, encourage them to find the hope of His calling on their lives, to walk in their destiny. I love animals. I love cowboys and athletes. I love my country. I grew up with three brothers and a sister.

I've lived in the south most of my life, but I've also lived in the Midwest. I've traveled nationally and internationally.

I love happily ever after.

So my stories have to be a composite of two or more of those elements. Romance, community, humor, strong characters, and a unique spiritual angle showing how the weak human heart can encounter the omniscient God.

What about you? What do you want to write? Or read? Make a list of what you like. Wrote down who you are. If you're not sure, ask those who know you best.

Then start developing your story and characters. Let the writing begin.


Teri Dawn Smith said...

Insightful post!

I've heard that advice "write what you know" too. I've told my writing class: "write what you know or what you're willing to learn".

I thought of my pithy friend, Rachel, when I revised yesterday. "Tell the story between the quotes." I took some of the internal monologue and put quotes around it. It made it even stronger coming out of her mouth. Thanks for the tip!

Margo Carmichael said...

Love, dove, and above? Can't thing of better things to rhyme! LOL

Marti Pieper said...

I had that same red diary--maybe it was an Ohio thing? And although the storytelling hasn't yet translated into a novel, it comes out in various creative nonfiction-type places.

I look forward to learning and, at the right time, to joining your journey!

("embodied pieces"--clever word choice to describe that book in particular, LOL)

Rachel Hauck said...

Marti, I saw the "embodied pieces" as I wrote it and thought... hmmm... smiled and left it.

I'm a genius in my own mind.

Margo, can write a very deep song with love, dove and above as the only rhymes. ha!


Rachel Hauck said...

Yeah, Teri, I think we write what we are willing to learn, but at the core of it, we must write who we are. That's a big part of voice.

Being willing to learn allows us to write with more description and setting and depth.

But who we are is what connects us to the reader.


Meg Moseley said...

"Write who we are." Wise words, Rachel.

My diary was white, with a lock and key. Isn't it funny how we were so private about our little journals, but now we post our thoughts all over the internet? Maybe that was practice for now.

Rachel Hauck said...

Meg, I have 17 years worth of diaries. I know they helped me get to where I am.

Rachel :)

Cheryl Smith said...

Thanks for sharing great insight into how you've gotten to where you are now, and what you write about. The key piece that jumped out at me as I read your post was "destiny." God has given each of us unique destinies - and our life experiences are woven into that destiny.

Great thoughts for a Thursday.