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Swoon Author Lydia Albano: Fight for Your Chance to Write

I think many of us have heard the quote, “If you want to be a writer, write,” attributed to Epictetus. Dozens of other writers have echoed it, and it sounds pithy and straightforward and like, yeah, duh, everyone knows that.

But it’s really easy not to, isn’t it? Not to write, not to make time for it, not to trust your instincts and tell the stories inside of you.

Just practically, it’s easy for “real life” to get in the way, or to procrastinate when we do have the time; I can’t tell you how suddenly clean my apartment gets, how many baked goods I concoct, and how over-socialized I become when my week finally has space for some good writing time.

But you have to do it.

You have to go and sit down at your desk or in your favorite chair or on a blanket in a park, and write.

Around ten years ago, some friends and a couple of my siblings and I sat in a circle in a room in my family’s house (a room with a jungle gym inside!) and played rounds of question games—“Which friends would you want with you on a desert island?” or “What book would you want to live inside?”, that sort of thing. The last one we asked was the most serious: “What dreams do you want to have accomplished ten years from now?”

Traveling the world, making movies, getting married, not getting married… we spouted dramatic answers, some of them not very realistic—and ten years sounded so far away. But guess what? One of those friends reminded me recently that my answer was “Publish a book,” which, when I think back to that hazy moment, seemed like such an impossible dream, something to wish for but probably not attain, at least for a long time. (I think I’ve always imagined that if I did manage to become a published author, I’d do it when I was about 60 and had time to pause the practical things in life and make room for writing.)

The thing is, life is busy.  At first there’s school, and sometimes work too. Then either you go to college or you get a job (or both), and either way you’re thrust into the world of being an adult and fending for yourself, and working hard and trying to be a decent person and trying to get some sleep and maybe even have a social life, and it’s really, really easy for writing to become that hobby you don’t have much time for.

Fight for it.  Say no to plans once a week, get up earlier than you have to on a Saturday.  Let the words that fill your head bleed onto that page, write until you care about what happens so much that you can’t leave your characters in the lurch because you’ll feel their pain.

In the (maybe disquieting) words of Shia LeBeouf, just do it. This imperfect world we live in will be better for the magic of your words.  And hey, you might even get to check your dream off your list long before you thought it was possible.

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Lydia Albano

Lydia Albano is a (self-proclaimed) Bunburyist living in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where she promotes Oxford commas, spends her money on musical …

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