Ten Endeavors That Helped Me Become and Stay a Writer

iStock_000021022342MediumFriends I haven’t seen for a while will often ask me about my writing – their eyes showing disbelieve that I continue down this path that to them seems to have no reward. Never ending rewrites, no writing paychecks in the mailbox, and finding time are the reasons behind their thinking. It’s hard to fully explain in the moment. I write because of many events both in the present and past.

WRITING OTHER THINGS: You can’t always be writing and rewriting stories. I find other types of writing help fuel the energy to jump back into the world of creating a novel. One outlet is this blog, which just had its second birthday.

WRITING EXPERIENCE PART 2: I wrote a software column for an educational journal back in the days when you actually bought disks and loaded them on your computer. It went on for five years and ended after I had nothing else to write about. I learned about deadlines and editing from this experience.

PERSEVERANCE: I disliked high school, but couldn’t get enough of college. Go figure. I was sorry to see it end, so I kept going for a Masters and finally a Ph.D. in Educational Psychology. Many people act surprised when finding that out. I don’t look the part I guess. The old joke is Ph.D. stands for Piled high & Deep. Not so in my case. Higher Ed is where my revising skills were refined in the writing of a dissertation. I was on my 23rd rewrite in the 18th month when the powers to be told me I was getting closer.

CLARITY: I’ve taught university classes in 23 states. Being adept at communicating the spoken word helps me make sure it comes through in my writing.

EXPERIENCE WITH MY TARGET GROUP: I taught middle grades kids (mostly 11-13 years old) for 20 years at three different schools before being pulled into staff development.

EXPERIENCE WITH MY TARGET GROUP PART 2: I was Colorado’s Big Brother of the year in 2008. The first two boys I mentored will graduate from college this year. A third is a sophomore in high school.

EXPERIENCE WITH MY TARGET GROUP PART 3: I’m always working with 2-4 children who are struggling readers. Most start with me in 4th or 5th grade and continue through middle school. They’re often the first ones to hear a story I’ve written.

STORY TELLER: I use to tell my students stories that would cause them to think and learn. Many of the original ideas have made it into my story writing today.

WRITING TIPS: I collect and use them. The best writing tip I ever got was “Write your story to get it down on paper, revise it to make it great. Those revisions will take longer than writing the original story.”

PURPOSE:  I write for the same reason I’ve done everything else in my life. It’s advice a wise person gave me long ago: Find something you love to do and then get a job doing it.

What helped you become and stay a writer?

About Greg Pattridge

Climbing another mountain...writing middle grade novels.
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5 Responses to Ten Endeavors That Helped Me Become and Stay a Writer

  1. What keeps me at it? It sure isn’t my resounding success so far. It’s that I still have things to say, stories to tell.

  2. Wow, Greg, you certainly have the perfect background for what you do. I think what kept me going was by starting with magazines. If I hadn’t sold that first short story, I may have thrown in the towel long ago. Or maybe not. Either way, this whole business of writing for children is just plain fun.

  3. What a great post! And yes, the revising does take longer than writing the actual original story!

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