I had a conversation at a party a few years ago with a woman who wanted to be a writer.
“I’m really good,” she told me. “My adviser said that my thesis was one of the best she had ever read.”
“Well that’s a good start,” I replied. “Do you have a blog or a website?”
“Do you belong to any writers’ groups?”
“No, I don’t have to, I’m already a writer.”
“Have you had anything published?”
“No, but I know I would be a really good writer if I was given an article to write.”
At this point my eyes started to glaze over. I tried one more time.
“Well, if you’ve written something and you’d like me to take a look at it I will.”
She huffed a tiny and polite breath, gave me an off look, and then excused herself to go find her husband. Later I found out that she told a mutual friend she couldn’t believe I didn’t recognize what a good writer she was and immediately offer her a writing assignment.
If you are a reader of this blog, you are probably rolling your eyes along with me (it never gets old) at this story. It’s one thing to have supreme confidence in your skill, it’s quite another to have that skill in the first place. I call myself a writer. I *am* a writer, but one of the reasons I love this craft is that I recognize it is ever changing.
I have never shoved my stick in the sand and declared that that’s it – I’m done with learning and this is where I stand. Instead, it’s more like, the tide sneaks up on me and swallows my stick. My stick is taken out to the rough surf where gasping and sputtering, I dive to retrieve it. When I go to plant my stick again, I learn to place it a little further up the beach than before, but you know what, I still don’t know if the tides will reach it again or not. It’s an active dance of moving progress and regression.
How do I keep retrieving my stick? I read, I write, I listen to feedback and I try new techniques – in short, I treat my writing as the job that it is.
Too many people think that writing is easy. “Oh, I should write a book someday.”
Writing is a craft – it’s an art. That’s one of the reasons I love being a writer. And just like any type of art it evolves. Techniques change (if you doubt me, compare blog writing to newspaper article writing), new insights are gathered and your internal sense of direction always gets refined.
Writing is definitely not easy (and question anyone who says it is.) It takes work, real work to get your story into words that will move others. It’s a discovery of you as much as it is a discovery of the intricacy of language. As in yoga, a writer needs to stay on her toes while holding a difficult pose. You need that balance, but you also need strength and the only way to get that strength is to practice, practice, get comments on your work, and then practice again.
I meet so many people who want to write, far fewer are the ones I meet who have what it actually takes to be a writer.
Wendy Thomas is an award winning journalist, columnist, and blogger who believes that taking challenges in life will always lead to goodness. She is the mother of 6 funny and creative kids and it is her goal to teach them through stories and lessons.
Wendy’s current project involves writing about her family’s experiences with chickens (yes, chickens). (www.simplethrift.wordpress.com) She writes about her chickens for GRIT, Backyard Poultry, Chicken Community, and Mother Earth News.