Twelve Steps for Writers

Last week I wrote about how both people wishing to stay sober, and people wishing to be writers had more than one thing in common. I also said I’d give some thought as to what the 12-steps for Writers might look like. Here we go – please feel free to keep your sense of humor while reading, and to email me any suggestions!

Step one: Admitted that the only thing we do even reasonably well is write – that we were writers; that through writing our lives have a deeper meaning and the world makes more sense.

Step two: Came to believe in the Power of Story and its ability to heal, enrich, and transform.

Step three: Made a decision to surrender to the writer’s life, both the good and the bad, and trust that, even if we never get published or receive an award or enjoy huge sales, it is nevertheless what we are meant to do.

Step 4: Made a searching and fearless inventory of what it is we still have to learn as writers, and what our weakness may be, including the habits that are keeping us from being writers.

Step 5: Investigated teachers, courses, and supporters who would help us become better writers, including a list of books to read that would expand our literary horizons and teach us how the masters do it.

Step 6: Humbly vowed to take constructive criticism, and not to let our egos get in the way of improving the work.

Step 7: Sought out one or more of the resources we’d researched and asked them – teacher, mentor, writing group or MFA programs – to help us improve, and studied our craft, remaining humble enough to learn from the masters, both those on our bookshelves, and those who agree to teach us.

Step 8: Reviewed what things we’re going to have to change in our lives if we want to be writers – for example: turning off the television; declining social invitations that take us away from our work; telling our friends that no, they can’t come and spend the weekend, because we’re writing; putting down the drug or drink, if they’re interfering with our creative process; carving out the time and place to write, etc. – and became willing to make these changes.

Step 9: Put into practice those habits which support our writing, as above, except when to do so means we are harming ourselves or others. (Try to step away from the manuscript long enough to eat, sleep and let your partner and children know you love them.)

Step 10: Continued to work at our craft and our manuscripts, daily, and when we found a flaw, or an unnecessary character or implausible plot twist, promptly corrected it.

Step 11: Sought through continued reading, study, and daily commitment to the writer’s life, to improve our conscious and sub-conscious contact with Inspiration, whatever that may be for us, praying only for the discipline to do the work we were meant to do, and the talent to carry that out.

Step 12: Having found our voices as writers, and perhaps even produced a manuscript of which we’re proud, we tried to help other writers find their voice as well, understanding that there is more than enough creativity in the universe for everyone, and the more we contribute to it, the deeper the well becomes.

Copyright 2008 Lauren B. Davis For permissions:


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