A friend asked me why I blog. I asked her why she plays golf.
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 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 at the end of the line.
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. I want to also point out that while fiction writing seems to be the thing we all want to do, there are many ways to be a writer. If fiction isn’t your forte, maybe information, news, or commentary will turn out to be your special gift. Some of us are not fiction writers, but nonetheless, we are writers.
Writers have words in their head waiting to be turned into text. We have heads full of words, sentences, pronouns, adjectives, and dependent clauses. Writing talent comes in an endless variety of flavors. The gift is freely given, but you have to work at it. Use your gifts well. My advice to all hopeful writers is and was — WRITE.
Don’t talk your story to an early demise. Write, even if most of your initial work is not very good, if you have a gift, eventually you’ll find your way. The important thing is writing. Every day if you can. The harder you try, the more likely you are to find a path that works for you. Maybe you will discover you don’t have what it takes to write a book. Maybe short stories or news writing is your thing.
Maybe you should be doing some other kind of art — photography, painting, design or carpentry, sound design, music, or whatever. When you find the right thing, you’ll know it. There’s a giant world of art and beauty in our world. There is a place for you.
You will never know how good you might have been unless you try.