Because we need creative non-fiction

Hello, Friends,

As my publication list suggests, I prefer fiction, but lately I’ve been dabbling in creative non-fiction as well. I never really thought I’d get into this genre, and always told myself the usual rationalizations–I’m not interesting enough, no one knows who I am so why should they read my memoir, I’m better at fiction, etc., etc..

Another reason is because the first time I tried writing about my life, I dredged up memories I really wasn’t ready to deal with. My mood swings worsened, I became irritable, withdrawn, depressed, and angry, and my work suffered tremendously. People were eager to comment on how I’d let them down, but had no apparent interest in why I was acting so strange. It took a while to pull myself together, mostly because I was doing it alone.

I’m stronger now, and able to talk about my past without issue, but the thought of going back to non-fiction still unnerved me. I’m taking a graduate class in the subject, though, so I faced my fear–myself–and have really been enjoying it.

Today, I was sitting at my computer intending to write 500 words and wound up writing 2000, all vignettes, talking about my friendships, my past, and my world in general, when I remembered the golden rule of writing: write because you love to. Not because you want people to love you, or because you want them to be impressed, but because you’ve got a story to tell, and you want to tell it.

Maybe that’s not everyone’s golden rule, but it’s mine (and you’re welcome to share your thoughts below).

I sat here, typing away, at first focusing on the negatives, on bullying, on lost friends, on people who wanted to hurt me, and found myself segueing into nostalgia. I remembered sunsets and long afternoons and people I haven’t spoken to in ages. It was one of the nicest, calmest afternoons/evenings I’ve had in a while.

So, to all you who might be considering writing creative non-fiction but aren’t sure if you should, let me decide for you. You should. Tell your story the way it needs to be told, even if that story just stays in a journal or on your hard drive for the next fifty years. It might hurt, or it might heal. Either way, it’s worth the effort. Psychology tells us now that keeping a journal or reflecting on your life in any way heals old wounds and helps make you a more well-rounded person–and you’ve got nothing to lose by trying something new.

Every day is a day to dig deep and discover who you really are. Every tomorrow is a chance to do yesterday a little better. Take advantage of what little time we have here, my friends. All you have to do is pick up a pen or open a word document, and both the future and past will be yours.

Best wishes,


A Writer’s Affirmation

Hello, Friends,

We all get stuck from time to time. I’m a comparatively new writer, but I’ve been around long enough to pick up some powerful tools along the way, and one of my favorites is a simple few sentences to overcome writer’s block.

This affirmation works no matter what you want to work on. Be it fiction, poetry, an essay, or even an email that you can’t find the right wording for, this will help unstick your mental gears. It even works for students struggling to do essays for class.

The trick to an affirmation is to set a quiet moment for yourself to say it. Once you’re ready to start writing, calm your mind and focus solely on the following words, which you can repeat mentally or aloud:

My ideas are creative and worthwhile. I can visualize them becoming words, which I write easily and with confidence. I do not have to wait for inspiration; I am my own muse.

That last line is really the important idea to take away. Many people postpone writing because they feel they aren’t “inspired.” Yes, inspiration is a wonderful thing, but the key to good writing is to do it consistently and treat it like a profession. Once you know what you want to write about, actual writing is only a matter of sitting down and putting your fingers to the keys.

I treat my writing like my actual job. When it’s time to write, I write, without excuses or distractions. Do I take days off? Of course. But I haven’t published a couple dozen stories and poems because inspiration waltzed through the door and said, “Here you go.”

When I can’t write, or when I’m procrastinating, I sit with the above affirmation for a few minutes, repeat it a few times, and remind myself that whatever words I put down don’t have to be a final draft. That really takes the pressure off, and soon I have new plot lines and character traits appearing, almost by magic. I hope these words are helpful to you as well.