Consider Yourself The Authors’ Apprentice

For about three years about 12 years ago, I cut and pasted and journaled and used stickers and die-cuts and patterned papers. Yep, I scrapbooked. It was all fun all the time.  Yes, even the time I bought my then five year old daughter a fall dress with apple appliques because I could scrapbook it with, you guessed it, apples, apples and more apples.

When I scrapbooked I always looked for the newest gadget, the funkiest doohickey and the coolest thingamajig.  What I didn’t look for was validation. Sure, my kids and I poured over the books and the pretty pages, and I liked learning the newest technique for attaching rivets to twine to embellish my actual paper pictures, but I did not want to be the best scrapbooker.  I just wanted to have fun.  I wanted to come away with a product that I liked looking at that preserved memories I ended up spending more time saving than making.  I not only grew tired of it, I think I outgrew it.

Scrapbooking was my hobby.  I did not need feedback, validation, growth potential or a paycheck from it.  It was fun but it wasn’t who I was. Nothing against scrapbooking or scrapbookers or the entire industry related to hobbies. Hobbies are great. Hobbies are necessary. Hobbies are like a Chinese buffet where you can take what you want, leave some and go back for more.But me? I got hungry an hour later and needed more.  Is it any wonder that when I stopped scrapbooking I started writing again?  (I’ve always written, but I admit I did stop for years)

To me, whether a writer is not published or being paid, writing not a hobby.  At least not to the writers I know (and you know who you are, all of you, yes, I mean you!)

I liken a writer to an apprentice — to learning a craft from those who have achieved some level above or different from your own, for the purpose of earning a living from it or gaining recognition.  Writers strive to learn from the best.  They spend years writing books. They read, take classes, network, query, revise and then do it all over again.  Maybe hobbyists do too — maybe coin collectors and bird watchers and ship-in-a-bottle builders want to be the best in their field.  Maybe they want recognition and to be a professional.  But are hobbies at the core of who these people are?  I don’t know.  I just know that writing is NOT a hobby.

Also, with writing, I believe that you can improve and learn and build on what you know, but I do not believe that everyone can write.  And I think that hobbies are open to everyone. There, I said it. It’s not necessarily a popular viewpoint in the world of bloggers where everyone calls him or herself a writer.

Maybe there are writing hobbyists out there.  I don’t know any, but that’s because I stepped on the write-to-publish moving sidewalk in 2007 and haven’t yet come to the end of it.

Writers often feel like they have to make excuses for their taking time to write because it isn’t a hobby it’s work.  That’s kind of convoluted, don’t you think? I understand that writing is an extra activity for many people working full time jobs and typing away in the evenings and on weekends. Still, I don’t look at it as a hobby.  Maybe that’s because I understand what goes into it and because hobby sounds casual. And casual can be a good thing.

But there’s nothing casual about writing.

So if you need to justify your obsession, your story, your time, your thoughts or your ambitions — think of yourself as as apprentice.

Just remember the important person to convince, is yourself.

6 thoughts on “Consider Yourself The Authors’ Apprentice

  1. I think that everyone can paint walls, but I don’t think everyone should. It’s tedious work, gets messy, and at times the color doesn’t always turn out the way we had hoped.

    Same goes for writing, with an exception (in my opinion). True writing comes from the heart, and that’s what separates writers from those who think that “everyone can write.”

    Great piece, Amy!


  2. My first agent in the theatre said this to me when she took me on: “I believe in you and your writing and I know that it may take years for you to reach your full potential. I’m in it for the long haul.” Those were the days, no? At just about the same time I was selected to become a member of New Dramatists, a playwrights organization that provides creative space and support to playwrights. Membership was 7 years because it takes time for a writer to grow and develop. I’ve always appreciated these early messages about “apprenticeship,” and I’ve always loved the word playwright. Wright as in craftsperson: wheelwright, cartwright. Old fashioned and concerned with craft and excellence.
    Thanks for a great post!


  3. I completely agree with you, and proudly identify myself as a writer apprentice. However, I’m also a knitter. Knitting can be classified as a hobby but it can also be a profession. I was a knitwear designer for eight years–from 2002 to 2010. If scarpbooking had become your passion, you could have opened a scrapbooking store and thus become a professional scrapbooker. As I see it, what makes the difference is mind set and, of course, passion.


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