We do what we do because we love it, need to do it, or both. Writing is like breathing. If I don’t write, I suffocate. My friend needs to compete, to be active. To play golf or she will suffocate.
I can’t begin to count the number of people who have told me they want to be writers, but don’t know how to start. They want me to tell them how. Because they asked the question, I’m reasonably sure they will never be writers. If you are a writer, you write. No one has to tell you how or when. You will write and you will keep writing because it is not what you do, it is what you are. It is as much a part of you as your nose or stomach.
I started writing as soon as I learned to read, which was about 45 minutes after someone handed me a book. It was as if a switch had been thrown in some circuit in my brain. Words felt right.
Putting words on paper was exactly the same as speaking, but took longer. I didn’t mind the extra time because I could go back and fix written words. Being able to change my words and keep changing them until they said exactly what I wanted them to say was the grail.
I was awkward socially and my verbal skills were not suited to my age and stage in life. I was not talented at sports. No one wanted me on her team. But I could write, I could read. It gave me wings.
If you are going to be a writer, you know it. Practice will make you a better writer, can help you understand how to build a plot and produce books that publishers will buy, but writing itself is a gift. If you have it, you know it.
Writers have words waiting to be written. Heads full of words, full of sentences, full of pronouns and adjectives and dependent clauses.
Talent comes in an endless number of flavors. Gifts are given. It’s up to us to use them well. My advice to all hopeful writers is: write.
Don’t just talk about it. Do it. Write a lot, as often as you can, even if most of it is bad. Sooner or later, you’ll find your way. If you don’t write, it is your loss, but maybe the world’s loss, too. You will never know how good you could be if you don’t try.