A coffee and two sweet biscuits sit on the table. Out the window, cotton clouds float in a blue sky. I just put down Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast. I still feel as though I’m snug in the ambiance of a Parisian café that’s buzzing with artists and poets. Nevermind that my coffee is in a styrafoam cup, the seatbelt sign is on above my head, and out my window I am looking down at the clouds, not up.

I want to be a writer. To be a writer, one must write. Even on a plane.

When I first started blogging during my study abroad trip to New Zealand four years ago, I discovered how much I enjoy writing. Writing has been a part of me ever since, for more or for less.

Up to this point, I purposefully crafted all of my pieces of writing with the intention that they be published on my blog. I didn’t write anything else, for anyone else, or for me, for that matter. I only wrote neat, square blog entries that I produced in a laborious fashion, one finished sentence after another — I was no fan of drafts. I only wrote on a computer where I could type easily and had instant access to a thesaurus. I only wrote when the time felt right, when I was in the mood, when the stars aligned.

I talk about how I used to write as if it was eons ago. This was last week.

This change in mindset happened over a longer period, but what finally tipped the scales was my discovery of 750words.com. It’s an online writing application that encourages its users to just write. Using a point system similar to that of scoring bowling, it awards writers for meeting a daily word minimum, writing several days in a row, and staying on a roll during each session.

I knew there was something wrong with my writing habits when I could barely eek out a 1000 word post a week. It went on like this for a few years until I realized two things wrong with my approach to writing:

1. I didn’t make a habit of writing everyday

2. I didn’t do any stream-of-consciousness writing

I realized that #2 was making #1 impossible. I needed to shed my writing self-consciousness and realize that sentences don’t pour out onto the paper perfectly on the first try. Or the second. Or ever. It’s not realistic or natural. Writing is a process. A process that involves many drafts, numerous revisions and a lot of mistakes.

All in all, I realized that writing down what comes to your head isn’t a bad thing. It’s actually a good thing. Sure, what’s on the paper might not be literary genius, but that’s not important. What’s important is actually doing it. Writing.

Coincidentally or not, this writing revelation of mine occurred just days before I made one of my biggest decisions ever. In hindsight, I’m glad I came to terms with my writing issues because it’s freed my conscience from the guilt that I’d been carrying around. I’ve felt guilty that I haven’t written as much or as often as I wanted. Now that I understand what’s going on, I feel more confident. Without this newfound confidence, I might not have had the guts to make this big decision. I even bought a plane ticket because of this decision. And my big decision?

I am going to write a book.

I’ve toyed with the idea of writing a book for a year or so, but never went ahead with it because I didn’t know exactly what to write about. A few weeks ago, I was visiting my family in Wisconsin and the the idea hit me. It shouted at me like Red Forman yells at his son Eric:

“Hey dumbass. Write about me.”

Yesterday I hopped a plane from the west coast back home to the Midwest. Time is marching forward, and in my family’s case, accelerating to full sprint. I have to catch up with it, tackle it and write it down before it slips away.

This will be hard. Really hard. Fortunately, I have a handful of wonderful people who supported my decision before I even made it.

  • Mom & Dad: Thank you for your overwhelming support and for the upcoming room & board, and wine.
  • Val & Kevin Berryman: Thank you for saying, “Hey Lauren, you should write a book.” And saying it again. And again. And…
  • Kirk: Thank you for saying yes you can do this. Because, had you not, it probably would have taken me years (or forever, and we don’t have that kind of time) to figure it out for myself. Thank you, not just for the push, but for the shove, for the dragging by one ankle kicking and screaming towards the right direction. Now that I’ve made the decision, I’m finally heading down the path under my own self-propulsion. But wait — now it gets real. I’m going to need you more than ever before. I love you.

Now you know. I’ve declared it: I’m going to write a book. I don’t know many of the details because a lot of them haven’t happened yet and I’ll need to go digging to find the rest of them. Most importantly (or least importantly?) I have no idea how it will end.

I’ll just have to start writing to find out. ☼