Okay, now that we’ve got the marriage stuff knocked out, it’s time to dive into the next series of posts on writing.
How long I’ve been “a writer” depends on who you ask. I would say since roughly five years old, when I grabbed a blue crayon and harrassed my mom for three days to spell 26 words for me so I could write my first alphabet book. Others would say not till this fall, when my official paid job title included the word “writer” (despite the fact that I’ve done copywriting in every job I’ve held since the age of 18 writing radio ads.)
Some people insist that you can’t just call yourself a writer. That it somehow denigrates the holy calling of writing to have guys who managed to register a blogger.com account calling themselves writers. As for myself, I tend to think that if you feel a pull to write, and enjoy the process of writing, you are probably a writer. Most people I know look forward to any writing they’re required to do about as much as they look forward to a root canal.
I blame the school system. [Our narrator now ducks the erasers being thrown at her by her many teacher friends!]
But seriously, the way writing is approached in the educational system is not really conducive to developing a great love of writing. Writing is essentially personal; it’s putting your thoughts, feelings and ideas into tangible, semi-permanent form. We innately take criticism of our writing personally. We naturally see it as a criticism of those thoughts, feelings, and ideas. While detailed criticism of grammar, handwriting, and spelling is an essential part of learning proper English, it can also create some negative emotional associations with writing that some people never overcome.
Some people master the mechanics of writing quickly, and I think these are the people with the best shot of developing a lifelong love of writing. It’s much the same as people who develop a lifelong love of reading because for whatever reason, they master the mechanics of it quickly enough to get tagged “good readers.” Is a “good reader” in the first grade predisposed by fate to eventually be able to enjoy the subtle nuances of great literature? No. And a kid who masters spelling and punctuation at age 7 is also not predisposed by fate to become the next Steinbeck.
But he might not fear writing like a kid who was slower to pick up those mechanics.
So a good first step in entering into the writing life, is to overcome any fear that you have about writing or yourself as a writer, and work on developing a love of writing.
So since this is a series on writing, there will be a writing assignment associated with each post. Today’s assignment is to write about your feelings, experiences, fears and hopes regarding writing. You can write down your opinion on what constitutes “a writer.” You can write about a particularly heinous writing experience (and possibly in writing about it, get past it). You can write about a particularly glorious writing experience (and possibly inspire yourself to do it more often).
First rule of writing: write!