Talk with Ann & Charity, “On Being a Writer,” part 4

Last interview! Thank you, Ann and Charity, for answering my questions, and most especially for writing the book.

If you, dear readers, have an opportunity to participate in a workshop with Charity and Ann, either in person or online, do yourself a favor and sign up. Your writing life will thank you.

Megan: Charity, what do you read/listen to/watch/play to refuel?

Charity: I like to look at art. I do like to paint or draw or cut or paste or do something artistic or creative. I’m learning to let that be what it is and not worry about actually making anything. I don’t need to be creating anymore to refuel.

I do love to read. Reading has gotten a little tedious at times because I’ve put some pressure on reading, and my reading time is much less than before I got married. The best strategy for me in the past was to read no more than one fiction book and one nonfiction at a time.

Megan: Ann?

Ann: It’s been an intense few months, so there’s been not much time to play. I was on the elliptical the last couple of days. That is different than sitting at my desk, so I’m gonna call this ‘play.’ If I start thinking that way, I don’t view it as work. That was refueling. We’ve got a layer of snow, but in other times of year, I’d want to go for a walk or, when I’m more in shape, for a jog.

I am trying to integrate more music. I’ve been sticking with music without words, so I’m experimenting with that.

And then I came across some art postcards, and I got a stand from [a friend]. I popped the postcard into the stand on my desk, so I’m trying to stimulate the library of my mind with some creative input, whether its auditory or visual while I’m stuck in my home. It’s refueling my writing.

Also reading something that inspires me, either by giving me new thoughts to think or a style that delights. Sometimes that means reading outside the genres I write. Even though it’s still in the world of words, it’s kind of like including visual arts and music in my days to refuel mentally and even emotionally. When I read great writing, it inspires me to work harder at my own work.

Megan: Do either of you have a writing dream?

Charity: What’s funny about that question is that my writing dreams have changed. That’s part of what I wanted to communicate in this book is that if I’d held onto my writing dream of the past, I’d never be able to have a writing life. My writing dream — I actually have a couple of smaller writing dreams, not the sort of giant dreams. That’s the way I dream now; I dream in smaller bits.

Here’s my writing dream: that I’d increasingly have time to spend and dedication to complete longer writing projects. I don’t simply mean writing books anymore. In the past I would’ve said my dream was to be a full-time book writer, but no longer — not that I don’t want to write more books. The world is changing! There’s a lot of ways to write. I am very interested in what comes out of writing longer work that doesn’t come out shorter work.

Ann: I wonder if I’ll wake up in 10 years and wish that I had expressed a very clear plan.

So much of my writing life has been serendipitous. It hasn’t been that I’ve had a dream or a goal, but I see other people longing for their own opportunity. I’ve been at this long enough that I have some connections and some knowledge that I can use to support other people. It’s drawn from my personality, life experience, skills and contacts. I’ve put together this writing coach thing and the personality part of me that loves to encourage people and problem-solve and see them achieve their dreams. That may be more my dream than achieving my own dreams.

I kind of imagine I could write more books, and maybe I will, but at this very moment, it’s too hard for me to think too far into the future. Despite the fact that we have a chapter called ‘Plan,’ and the fact that I would like to plan, I have to hold any goals or dreams loosely right now. I’m not sure what the timing of my goals or dreams will be right now. I think other than my podcast, I can’t think beyond this month and this day. What do I need to do for my clients? For my publishers? What are the small things I’m doing in my own writing? What’s the next action?

I like knowing myself better. When I first started, I tried everything, not knowing what was a good fit for me. I’ve had enough successes and failures. I can do X, but not very well. Or I can do Y, but I don’t want to do Y. I don’t have to stay in my sweet spot. I can branch out. That’s part of experimenting and play. There’s something to be said for that.

I want to be always stretching and growing — maybe that’s my dream, as a writer and a writing coach. That may mean writing things that I can’t even think about right now because I don’t know what that would be.


  1. “I like knowing myself better.” So true. I have enjoyed reading these series of questions and answers. You are all very helpful.

  2. Sarah, thank you for popping in to read our responses–you can see how exact Megan has been with these responses (mercifully leaving out my meandering conversational rabbit trails!). I’ve been a freelance writer since 1990, and as I said, I’ve tried so many different kinds of writing–I’m glad I did, because that was part of my self-discovery, but as I said just there, as you quoted me, I’m also glad to have arrived at a place of confidence, choosing what I want to pursue, whether it’s my sweet spot or something I want to try just for the heck of it.

    Glad you were here, Sarah.

    And Megan, thank you so much for working with our words! It was a delight to spend that time with you on the phone interview, and a double-delight to see what you did with them, weaving Charity’s and my thoughts together.