In 2008, I joined a writers group for a few months. We did some writing exercises, one of which was to write 12 steps for writers, inspired by The 12 Step Program for Alcoholics Anonymous. Here’s what I wrote.
12 Steps to a Writing Life
Hello. My name is Alanna. I am a writer. This is my version of Writers Anonymous: 12 Steps to a Writing Life (I write them in the present tense because they are never finished, they are things I must do over and over again).
1. I admit I am powerless without writing- that my life is empty without it.
2. I believe the muse can pour the words into my brain, down my arm, through my fingers, into the pen, onto the page.
3. I make the decision, sometimes hourly, to write no matter what else is going on in my life. No excuses.
4. I make a searching and fearless inventory of myself and the world around me, and write it down, as I see it.
5. I admit on paper the exact nature of my flaws through my characters and stories.
6. I am entirely ready to let the characters speak for themselves, and not force the characters into a mold or stereotype.
7. I humbly apologize to the characters when I do try to control them.
8. I make a list of all the characters in my story, and I am willing to listen to all of their backstories, even if it’s time consuming, and even if the information doesn’t go into the finished story.
9. I allow the characters and the story to evolve and change whenever possible, except when to do so would block the progression of the story.
10. I continue to take inventory of myself and the world around me, and write it all down, as I see it, and if I dance around the truth, I rewrite it.
11. I seek, though daily writing practice, books, classes, and my writing community, to improve my craft and discipline, to the best of my ability, and to draw inspiration and knowledge from these various sources to achieve my writing goals.
12. As a result of these steps, I have experienced a creative awakening, and I try to carry this message to other writers and would-be writers, and to practice these principles in my writing life.