How to Write Like a Girl

JavaciaJust write.

By Javacia Harris Bowser

This summer I declared on my personal blog that I had forgotten how to write like a girl.

This isn’t to say I wasn’t writing. I’d been doing plenty of that—writing this monthly column on women’s issues, freelancing for other local media outlets, and regularly updating the blog for See Jane Write, the organization for women writers and bloggers that I founded in 2011. And I’ve been growing that blog and organization into a business and encouraging the women of See Jane Write to build businesses of their own. I even came up with a catchy title for this mission: Lady Blogger to Boss Lady.

But to me none of that demonstrated what it meant to write like a girl.

I’d always believed that writing like a girl wasn’t about writing to meet a deadline or blogging to build a business. I thought writing like a girl meant waking up early or staying up late to scribble personal prose in your favorite notebook while sprawled across your bed, hair piled into a messy bun because you don’t want any distractions, not even the curls you twirl around your finger when you’re in deep thought.

I thought that writing like a girl meant pouring your heart out on the page, not for publication, but because you just can’t help yourself. And I considered writing like a girl the craft of writing in its purest form.

But girls grow up.

When the young woman that I mentor left for college this summer, I wrote a special blog post dedicated to her and the new journey on which she was about to embark. In the post, I challenged her to grow up but to never stop being a girl. But I’ve realized I’ve been chastising myself for allowing my writing to do the same thing. I didn’t stop writing like a girl. I just started writing like a girl who grew up.

To me, to write like a girl means to write with passion. And I’m still doing that. But now I’m writing with both passion and purpose.

Yes, I write because I get a thrill from the simple act of stringing together sentences on a page. But I also write to empower the women and girls in my sphere of influence. When I told my mentee to never stop being a girl, I meant never stop being a dreamer. I meant never stop having childlike faith in yourself. As I blog to build a business, I’m doing exactly that. Every paragraph of every post is another sprint in the chasing of my dreams, my dream to create a life of financial freedom for my family and myself.

Writing is my passion, but it is also my profession. Even though I’m no longer a full-time journalist as I was for the early years of my adult life, I still take my writing seriously. I take my freelancing seriously. I take working on my craft seriously and in doing so, I’m setting a good example for the teenagers I teach in my current full-time job as an English instructor at a local fine arts school.

I see my blog as my job and that’s not a bad thing. Those words may make some bloggers cringe because they see their little place in cyberspace as their escape from their soul-draining 9 to 5. But hating your job isn’t ideal, obviously. No one wants to hate their job. And if you loved your job you would take it seriously and pursue it with passion and it would help you live a purpose-driven life. So why not treat your blog like a life-giving job? You’ll get from it what you put in. I promise.

Ironically, the conclusion I came to after all of these revelations was the same as the one I reached in my blog post. The solution is simple: Just write. It’s time for me to stop overanalyzing my time at the keyboard and just enjoy all that I create while there—whether it’s to build a business, to meet a deadline, or simply for the sake of self-expression.

I didn’t forget how to write like a girl. I’m just writing like a girl who knows the woman she wants to be.

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