"Writers aren't writers because there are bookstores with shelves and magazine racks to hold the fruit of their work. Writers are writers because they write, whether they are published or not."
~ Ballenger and Lane
In addition to my many other books about writing, I've been reading Discovering the Writer Within by Bruce Ballenger and Barry Lane (I'm sure many of you remember how much I love Barry Lane). At the end of the book they remind us that although writing is hard work, it doesn't have to be painful. They say the pain comes from having standards that are too high, too soon in the writing process. In order to help us recognize growth along the way, they provide a list of 10 things that are "welcome signs" of progress.
A Writer's Ten Welcome Signs
1) You are able to write regularly, even when you're not in the mood.
2) If you want to, you are able to write fast without stopping. You can write until your hand hurts.
3) Your "bad" writing doesn't bother you. You know that bad writing often leads to good writing.
4) When you write, you first concentrate on what you want to say, not who might want to read it. Meaning comes before audience.
5) You frequently write about things that confuse you. You learn to like confusion, to seek it out.
6) More and more, you are surprised by what the writing is telling you.
7) You rarely think about style, except to admire it in other writers.
8) In revision, you find yourself throwing good stuff away.
9) You notice things other people miss. You remember them. You write them down.
10) You are able to recognize your good writing. It makes you happy to have written it.
These are all signs of growth as a writer. Welcome them. Ballenger and Lane tell us
Celebrate the progress you've made - even if it seems modest - by going to your favorite restaurant and ordering something really sinful, maybe something with chocolate as thick as a Greenland glacier, or a cheap hot dog smothered with yellow mustard and pickles. Eat it joyfully. Walk calmly and confidently out the door and down the block, then do a little dance on the curb. You're a writer.
Which welcome signs are you most proud of in your writing progress?