April 20, 2015

The Reluctant Writer

By Linda R. Shoaf

Whenever I hear friends exclaim their love for writing, I think I’m in the wrong crowd. Yet, am I? I’ve written throughout my career because it was part of my job responsibilities. When others plagiarized my work, I considered it as affirmation and would say, “I’m glad they liked it.”

From a career perspective, it was to my advantage to publish in recognized journals and trade magazines in my field. Many encouraged my efforts. I regarded the numerous newsletters and materials I initiated for my employer or volunteer groups as creative ventures instead of writing.
A busy work and volunteer schedule kept me from pursuing personal writing. I once overheard a professional in my field and prolific writer say, “You don’t find time to write, you make time.” Maybe that’s the problem. Other responsibilities made me reluctant to put aside time to write, so I procrastinated as I tried to finish everything else.

For those like me who consider themselves a reluctant writer, for whatever reason, here are a few pointers to change your view.

Give yourself credit. While I didn’t consider all those programs, workbooks, and other projects as writing, a writer-friend convinced me that writing is writing.

Be confident. I felt secure in the style of work I did for others, but somehow, writing for myself dampened self-confidence. Perhaps it was fear of failure. Regardless, if it wasn’t written or sent somewhere, great ideas were to naught.

Be persistent. I admire those who write and seem to get it correct the first time. A well-known editor of a professional journal once commented, “It takes most people at least seven rewrites to get articles ready to publish.” And I might add, it takes some of us more.

Be consistent. While I’m generally goal-oriented and reasonably organized, all that seems to vanish when I write. It’s difficult for me to establish a specific plan. I make notes on scraps of paper as ideas come to me.

Find the best time and place to write. That’s old news, but it has merit. Many find a quiet spot or have a favorite area to do their work. I laugh and say I often accomplish more sitting in a waiting room because I tune out everything else. At home, it’s always the ding of a washer or dryer, the ring of a cell phone or other electronic device, or hundreds of other distractions.

Keep your own style. I don’t write fiction, but I can analyze and interpret data. It finally occurred to me that it wasn’t a good use of my time to write in a manner uncomfortable to me. Each of us has a unique style.

Whatever your writing aspirations, you can overcome the label of reluctant writer. Adjust your mind-set and get started. 

Linda Ross Shoaf is a registered/licensed dietitian-nutritionist with a doctoral degree in adult education. After one year of teaching junior high school, she moved into teaching nutrition and related subjects in colleges, universities, and post-secondary schools. Following several moves with her husband and teaching in five states, they founded Cindryn Group, Ltd. in the late 1980s. Within a few years, Linda integrated her independent work in nutrition and Christian living into their company. Her motto, “To nourish body and spirit” reflects her goal to encourage people in healthy physical and spiritual living. Linda has spoken at local, regional, and national venues and leads nutrition workshops, Bible studies, and national webinars. She serves in leadership roles on community and educational boards. As a registered dietitian-nutritionists, Linda is a national peer-reviewer for many articles, books, position papers and professional materials in her field. Her publications include numerous journal, trade, and consumer articles and devotionals. You can find her blog at  

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