Please welcome Angie Dixon to the blog today. We share a last name and also a passion for writing and creativity! I know you'll enjoy her post. (And be sure to check out the free report she's offering here.)
Being a Writer is More Than It’s Cracked Up to Be
by Angie Dixon
I’ve been a working writer long enough to know that I didn’t get exactly what I signed up for with this gig. I did get the people looking impressed and asking, “What do you write?” I got the people saying, “I’ve always wanted to be a writer.” I got the callouses on my fingers and palms from typing all day. I got some of the money and all of the satisfaction. I also got a lot more than I expected in terms of the way my writing has impacted my life for the good. I can say without a doubt that were I not a writer, my relationships, my relationship with myself, my spiritual life and my perspective on the world would be far different and far less than what they are now. Forget about the work for a moment. Let’s talk about the life writing gives us.
When I decided I wanted to write for Word Strumpet, the phrase “Writing is More Than It’s Cracked Up to Be” popped into my mind, and I knew I had to write it because I needed to know what that meant. It’s like Toni Morrison said, “If there's a book that you want to read, but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it.”
So I sat down to write about how writing is more than it’s cracked up to be, and this is what I discovered. I went into this post thinking along the lines of, “Writing gives you more than you signed up for.” But the truth is, I didn’t sign up for anything.
When I was five years old I decided I wanted to write a book. I took all the paper off the communal shelf and went back to my desk.
Mrs. Carnahan told me to put it all back except for one piece. My brave best friend, Mark, stood up and said, “She’s going to write a book.”
Mrs. Carnahan said, “Well, then, she’ll have to write it one piece of paper at a time.”
I did, many years later, write a book one piece of paper at a time. And another and another and another to the point that I say I’ve written 30 books but I’m sure it’s more like 35. I’d have to take a while and make a list and I just haven’t made the time to sit down and do that, so I say I’ve written 30 books.
In the course of writing approximately more than 30 books, along with millions of words spread across articles, blog posts, white papers, guides, manuals, comments, lists and even a couple of infographics and a comic strip, I’ve learned what writing is and what writing is not.
After writing this post, throwing out the original, writing it again, losing that original, and writing it five more times, I’m ready to tell you what it means that writing is more than it’s cracked up to be.
First, writing makes us special. It also makes us deny that we’re special.
Take just a second and picture your favorite author, or your favorite five authors. Now tell me this. Did you see names on book covers, or titles, or faces? I saw all three, for several favorites including Sue Grafton, Dean Koontz, business author Brian Tracy, self-help novelist Andy Andrews and a psychologist named Robert Cialdini, author of Influence.
Think about that for a second. I’m a very visual person. If you learn in another way, you may not think of faces when you call to mind your favorite authors. You may think of something they said or something you learned from them.
But you can think about an author and call up something specific about that author and his or her work.
You can only do that with people who are special to you. You can’t do it with the person who sat behind you in kindergarten, unless that person was a good friend or a sworn enemy.
If writers are special to us, that means that you, as a writer, are special.
We have trouble understanding this about ourselves, but that doesn’t make it any less true. It just makes it something we don’t want to believe.
Second, writing changes the world.
I was going to talk about how “writer” is the ungulate-Latin-Spanish-Indo-European-Swahili (or something) word for “world-changer.” You see, I have to exercise my sarcasm muscle once an hour or I get a really bad cramp, and I have to drive six hours tomorrow by myself. I don’t want to risk driving with a cramp, so….
What I’m going to say instead is that ideas change the world. What that boils down to is that thoughts change the world. As far as I’m aware, it is impossible to read without thinking. If you read, you create new thoughts. Those thoughts change your life, even in some infinitesimal (which is a really cool word) way.
Reading changes the world. Ipso lorem, ergo sum, e=mc2, QED, therefore and all that, writing changes the world. Since you are a writer, you change the world. Which, if you’re still thinking about it, makes you special.
Third, writing helps us fit into the world.
I’ve written an entire book, The Leonardo Trait, for “Leonardos,” or profoundly creative people, about the feeling of not fitting in the world and how to understand ourselves and find where we do fit.
I can boil down that entire “Owner’s Manual for the Brains of Profoundly Creative People” by saying this. Your creativity is what makes you an important part of the world, even when you think you’re a square peg because of your creativity.
Writing creates your place in the world, a place where no one else could fit because they don’t have the words you came to say.
Fourth, writing gives us a new Why.
This section and the first paragraph are the surviving remnants of the post I rewrote more times than I can count, but probably more times than books I have written. Probably not.
Writing becomes a part of your life in ways you don’t expect and don’t understand, and it indeed gives you a new “Why.” It gives you a new why for living, for caring and for doing. It gives you a why for loving and for giving to others. At the same time most importantly and least importantly of all, writing gives you a new why for writing.
That new why goes beyond the “I can’t not write” need to write. It goes beyond the love of writing, or the hatred of it that some writers feel. It goes beyond the words.
I mentioned this new why a moment ago. Whether you realize it or not, once you accept your writerness, your deep commitment to life as a writer, you write because you haven’t yet said the words you came to say.
Angie Dixon hates bios written in the third person. She is the author of “The Owner’s Manual for the Brains of Profoundly Creative People,” The Leonardo Trait. She would like to share more with you about what writing is cracked up to be in her free report Cracking Up? No, Just Being a Writer. You can learn more about Angie on her website, LeonardoTrait.com.