“When you keep planting plants, you become a gardener.” Olivia, small child
When do you become a writer? When you receive your first paycheck? When you publish a novel? When you win a writing competition?
I’ve spent the last fortnight writing. Not a novel or short story. Not poetry or feature articles. I’ve been locked away writing early childhood observations and end of year assessments. These observations come with the end of every school year and they highlight the successes and gaps in our program. Writing observations and research papers is an important part of my role as an early childhood teacher and I enjoy it.
But afterwards, when the last child’s observation is safely tucked inside its folder, and I try to write something else, like a blog post or a creative piece or even a shopping list, I realise my writing light has dulled. It’s burnt out. Used up. Every word is lost to educational phrases. Becoming. Being. Belonging. These three words characterise the vision for learning in early childhood and I think the vision is rather beautiful. But after so long spent writing around these themes I find myself struggling to write about anything else.
A fierce wind is blowing in Perth today and I am thankful for it. It matches the blustery battle in my mind. Today I watch the words twist and twirl away from me. I sit down to write a blog post but each word comes out protruding and awkward. Like big ears on a tiny head, I can only hope to grow into them.
I do strange things when I feel this way. I subconsciously turn to grilled cheese sandwiches and extra sugar in my tea, as if indulging my body will fool the words into submission.
But today I do not feel like a writer. I hold a bachelors degree in writing but I have never dreamed of calling myself a writer. When I think of being a writer I think of creative writing. Writing early childhood observations and educational research papers fills my bank balance while creative writing fills my head, heart and soul. Not having the words or energy for creative writing makes my heart ache.
I love the quote above. A small child somewhere, some day said these words and The Early Years Learning Framework for Australia features it in the first few pages. I believe it’s a quote that I can learn from.
If I keep writing words then I’ll become a writer.
Stream of consciousness writing helps. And so, armed with sweet tea and carbs with cheese I abandon all writing plans and expectations and I write. The first words that come.
Do you get paid to write? How do you balance your paid writing work with more creative pursuits? When did you become a writer?
- Should I take a creative writing course? (narrativeodyssey.com)
- Think Creatively then Write Creatively (mirrorsonthewall.org)
- What is Creative Writing (beforeabeyondz.wordpress.com)