Friday, February 15, 2013

What Counts as Writing?

I've been searching my brain for some words of wisdom for this week.  I've got nothing.  Life (and death) has sent my writing careening off course over the past couple of weeks, in the worst way.  The funny thing is, I realized I AM still writing.  I'm writing blog entries.  I'm writing in my journal.  I'm writing emails.  I'm just not writing fiction.

The latest push in education is the Common Core Standards.  In the area of writing and reading, these new standards put a huge emphasis on nonfiction (informational text, they call it) because it is the type of writing most people use and interact with in their daily lives.  But in the community of writers, nonfiction sometimes seems to be treated as a second-class citizen.  Why would I think my nonfiction writing "doesn't count" somehow?

Of course, blog entries and emails and journaling won't help me finish my novel or revise that short story of mine.  But they keep my muscles healthy while the rest of me is spluttering my way through life's sudden onslaught.  And they remind me that I am a writer.  I process this adventure of life through writing about it - fiction, nonfiction, you name it.  I can't help myself.  It's how I think and feel and experience.  Not everyone responds to life by straining it through words to find it's essence.  Those who do are writers by nature, if not by profession.

This blog entry is a nice little representation of writing as processing.  At the beginning, I said I had nothing to say.  As I continued writing, processing my thoughts, I found I had plenty to say, and more importantly, I was able to put to bed one recent source of personal discouragement ("I'm not getting any writing done at all; why do I bother?  Maybe I'm not a writer.").  Yes, life's travails have derailed the big fiction project for now.  But they haven't stopped me from writing.  Not even close.


  1. Anonymous8:02 PM

    We write because we can't stand not to write. It's how we express our needs, desires, and regrets.

  2. If I'm not writing, I'm thinking about my writing, my plot, my characters. Just as good!


    I may stop writing, but the scariest thing for me would be to stop thinking. It would be devastating.

  3. Anonymous7:47 PM

    Creative nonfiction! It's a relatively new genre, although it has been around for ever since humans started writing. So let's call it a newly-named genre. You've surely already read this, but just in case: and It's not fiction. It's real stuff that's happened to real people, but the writers construct it in such a way as to give it meaning and significance and beauty. It's wonderful. Because fiction or nonfiction, we writers are always telling a story.


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