Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The Writing Life by Gail Sattler

This Writer's Journey Wednesday, we welcome friend and author, Gail Sattler, to Seriously Write.

Things I Have Learned
About the Writing Life

Before I started writing this post, I had to stop and think, what exactly is “the writing life”? At the last writer’s conference I attended, between the writers and guests, everyone somehow got unconsciously classified into two groups – the Writers, and the Normals. Uh, Normals? Face it. Writers are different, and it only makes sense that we have a very different and separate “writing life.”

In this writing life, I have learned five things.

1. Writing is a solitary profession. Even though we write about people, we can’t be around people when we write. The best thing I ever taught my children to do (once they were old enough) was to shut the door to my writing room when they hear those special words… “Mommy’s on a deadline”. The door can only be opened if it involves blood, or the police. Fortunately, neither have happened. Therefore I’ve always met my deadlines. Or at least most of them.

2. Writers must pick their priorities. There are only 24 hours in a day, and nothing is going to change that. Writing takes time. A lot of time. Therefore, writers must choose what is really important, and what is not, in order to make that writing time happen. Some things simply must be put aside, and writers must learn to delegate. For example, children over the age of 13, regardless of gender, are perfectly capable of doing their own laundry. I do not have to cook every meal, it can be a shared duty, and whoever didn’t cook, can do dishes. I figure I am also teaching my children how to become good spouses when that day comes.

3. There are things only writers understand, such as the correct way to slit your wrists if you really want to commit suicide. Writers discuss things like this at great length. In public. Fortunately none of us were put under surveillance for psychiatric examination. That we know of.

4. Knowing the details of how things happen is important. Depending on what you write, it can be vital to know how to properly burn down a house and leave no traces. So in order to get the right information, writers must ask the right people. So even though some of us, myself included, are now on lists of possible arsonists, that’s okay. It’s all in the name of research.

5. Take notes. Sometimes the best ideas come in the worst places. A writer must always be prepared to take notes, so when that writing time that we have so carefully worked toward happens, we haven’t forgotten what was surely the best idea in the world. Notes can be on paper, but they can also be made on iPhones, PDA’s, and other portable electronic devices. On the back of grocery bills. Receipts. Envelopes. Toilet paper works, too, but it’s harder to write on. Please do not ask me how I know this. If you see someone with a half-eaten burger beside them with ketchup dribbling down their chin frantically scribbling on the clean part of a napkin, that person is probably a writer.

Hey. Writers gotta eat. But more than that, writers gotta write.

Gail Sattler is a multipublished author who lives in Vancouver, BC, where you don’t have to shovel rain, with her husband, 3 sons, 2 dogs, and a lazy lizard named Draco, who is quite cuddly for a reptile. When she’s not writing Gail plays bass for her worship team and a local jazz band. Gail’s next book, The Narrow Path, is coming out in May 2010. Check it out at


  1. Hey Gail, thanks for visiting!

    We writers have to be careful what we discuss among "normals" on the elevator . . .


  2. Writers gotta eat...
    Writers gotta write...
    And they often eat WHILE they write!
    Especially chocolate! ;-D


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