September 25, 2014

Living the Dream by Vickie Stam

As a newbie writer I can think of a few 'How To' writing tips but there's one that always stands out. I hear it from writers who have years of experience that definitely trumps mine. 'Write what you know.' Those words are engrained in me.

I have to admit it feels a little strange to be offering up advice when most of my writing up until a few years ago landed between the pages of journals. Secret writing. Not something that was intended for an audience. In all of my journaling history I've never worried about spellcheck or poor grammar. And the daunting task of self-editing.... non-existent. No need to re-write. It's care-free writing.

Chapters, Coles or maybe even Staples are a few of my favourite stores where I go in search of that perfect journal. Each one has it's own unique cover. Trying to decide which one will come home with me can be a process. I like to run my fingers over the crisp blank pages that might soon house all my thoughts and cares.

On the odd occasion a silent scream rises in my chest when I spy the perfect journal without ever pressing my fingers against the grain. A cover instantly calls my name when I see its bright colour, read its poetic verse, or smell the bold scent of leather. Life is full of ups and downs. Journals are an anchor.

Then there's my need to sign up for a writing class. Three years ago I did just that. I enrolled in something of general interest. No pressure. No exams. Just writing for simple pleasure. Still, that class didn't come without digging up every ounce of courage I could muster. I was used to writing for my eyes only. The mere thought of another person reading my words was terrifying to say the least.

Amazing things happened since giving in to those fears. My confidence has grown. I'm encouraged to keep writing. And now I can honestly say, "I love it!" I look forward to signing up for more writing classes.

Here are some tips that motivate me:

  • Keep writing and don't stop.
  • Don't let negative feedback destroy your confidence.
  • Follow your dreams.
  • Find a writer's group or enroll in a writing class or program that will keep you connected to other writers.
  • Find someone who will encourage you on your journey.
  • Carry a pen and paper with you at all times.
  • READ! How to books, novels, magazine articles. Change it up sometime. Read something you never thought would interest you.
  • A thesaurus is a great writing tool.

Inside every person's heart lies a story.
"Writing is being able to take something whole and fiercely alive that exists inside you in some unknowable combination of thought, feeling, physicality and spirit and to then store it like a genie in tense, tiny black symbols on a calm white page." ~ Mary Gaitskill

I write because God opened the door to my dream.


  1. Vickie, it sounds like our writing journeys have been very similar. I too joined a writing class that became a writing group, and eventually we put together an anthology. That got me into a published book.

    I journalled while I was struggling to deal with my mother and her dementia, and that became the basis for a book that's to be released in November.

    Everything you say is dead on. Blessings on your continued journey!

  2. Great post, full of insight and wise advice!

  3. Vickie,
    I am a newbie as well. I completely relate to your journal thoughts. Actually I relate to everything in your post! I love to journal and I as I am now involved in other writing projects, I have to give myself permission to sit down with my new journal and write just for the pure pleasure of it (no editing and knowing the words are for my eyes only). May God bless you in your writing journey!

  4. Thanks everyone for your responses. It's wonderful to know that I'm not alone in my writing journey.

  5. I connect with being fairly new in the 'declared' as a writer category as well. I also seek out the next journal to be had!
    Wishing you Joy in the journey!

  6. I am a newbie too. And I too LOVE going into bookstores and looking at journals, their colors, patterns, inside verse or quotes.

    And I too am thankful for a writer's group that has been both encouraging and challenging--pulling me out of myself to figure out "who I am" as a writer. This group is a beautiful gift from God. He is so GOOD!

  7. Thanks for this post, Vickie. Like the others, I can identify with so much of what you're saying. I love choosing a journal, writing on those fresh, clean pages, sorting through life on the page, sometimes praying. Our local writing group is a big plus in my life and I've been part of it for a long time.

    I just came back, re-encouraged and re-enthused to write, to put my ear down low and listen to what God would have me write. Bless you on your writing journey.


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