Writing is more than a job — it’s a daily therapy

It’s often said that anything worth doing takes time. It’s easy to look at something beautiful and think, ‘I could do that! and ‘I wish I had that skill or talent!’

There might even be a moment when you get caught up in trying to make something as stunning as what you saw — or watch someone else so you can learn. It’s very easy, however, to forget how much time and effort goes into creating a masterpiece.

I’ve always gravitated toward creativity. I like trying new things and seeing what works best. That has been an important part of my life, whether I’m writing or waiting to get out of bed to start my day. Even so, I’ve never been unrealistic in my pursuits. I always try to learn from my experiences.

I was once asked, “What do you want to be?” by a churchgoer on a Sunday several years ago. It was clear that she had read my column before as she told me the one in which I talked about buying clothes for my uncle’s wedding was her favorite. I was confused — not only because she knew I was a writer, but also because this was so off topic.

I just smiled and said, “I’m going to keep writing. That’s my plan.”

“Oh,” the woman replied while patting me on my shoulder. “Well, good luck with that, honey!”

I didn’t take her gesture as rude or dismissive. I knew she was simply being kind, but it made me realize that people genuinely look at my ability to write as a gift. I try to treat it that way, but I also know that creativity is just as important as any other aspect of what I do. Every day brings a new challenge — often bigger and more difficult than the one before. I need to find creative ways to not only tell those stories, but also deal with my emotions in a healthy way. It seems like the more I write, the more I see that this is so much more than a job. It’s also my daily therapy.

I can say that being a writer is about spending at least eight hours a day on my computer, or spending even more hours just researching information before any words are actually written. Those are two of the most difficult and time-consuming aspects of this line of work. That daily controlled chaos, however, is what keeps my hands, arms and mind moving.

It may sound silly, but that has become so ingrained in my routine that I couldn’t ignore it. I also got into the habit of starting my assigned stories early, because it generally takes me longer to get things done. I noticed that all of this had a major impact on my health — and it felt great because I was doing something that I love.

I still feel that way. That feeling, combined with the amount of work it took to simply get my writing in front of readers, was a huge step in the right direction. It taught me discipline and responsibility. As I started to get hired by more publications, people’s perceptions started to change.

My responsibilities came with a lot of assumptions and misconceptions — the biggest one being that writing is “easy”. I began to receive e-mails from readers asking if I wrote my own articles and the most common question I’m still asked, “You type on a computer. How hard can it be?”

I’ve learned that writing on a professional level is a very tireless, quiet and often thankless pursuit. I fell in love with writing for the sole reason that it gave me an outlet to express myself. I didn’t want to do it for fame or fortune. I thought that was all the justification I needed to keep going.

Now, all these years later, I see and feel the benefits of what I do for a living. I’m learning every step of the way and bringing people with me. Most importantly, I get something back every time I put something out. That’s better than any amount of money, fame or fortune put together!

Erin Kelly, 34, was born with cerebral palsy in Korea, and lives in Altoona. In addition to this column, she also writes for online publications The Huffington Post, The Good Men Project, Upworthy and Real Talk Magazine. Email her at WriterWheels28@gmail.com.