The Path to Writing

Typewriter Keys

Photo credit:  "Typewriter Keys" by Holly Chaffin
Photo credit: "Typewriter Keys" by Holly Chaffin | Source

A Beginner's Guide to Writing, from the Perspective of a Beginning Writer

There is a somewhat famous story I've seen several times that goes something like this:

A famous contemporary author is signed on to give a lecture at a creative writing class at a local university. He walks on stage and begins his lecture by asking a simple, pointed question, "Who here wants to be a writer?"

Seeing every hand in the hall suddenly shoot up, the author shrugs, saying "Then what are you doing here? Go home and write!" He then walks off the stage and leaves.

The point here - whether this story is true or not - is that being a writer is simple. Go home and write. Being a good writer, a successful writer however, is somewhat more difficult. Nonetheless, the first thing is always the same: to be a successful writer, you must first write.

I decided a couple of years ago that this is my course, this is what I choose to do with my life. We all have something inside of us, some talent, some innate ability that some find and nurture while others allow to wither and die or perhaps to go undiscovered. I have spent most of my adult life working jobs that were unsatisfying, jobs that I hated, jobs that led nowhere, jobs for which I had no enthusiasm. They were a paycheck and nothing more.

When the economy tanked and I suffered one layoff after another, I began to reevaluate my career path and I came to a painful realization, that I was on a dead-end course, a fast track to a mediocre existence and a struggle to the end unless I make a change. I had to change my career path, but to what? Realizing my innate abilities took some soul-searching, inner realization and no small amount of coffee.

I presume that you're here, reading this because, like me, you have chosen to pursue a career path in writing. You've also likely met with some of the same obstacles I've found - motivation, confidence and consistency among them.

Motivation is a tough one and one which I struggle with daily. After waking up, dealing with the children and getting ready to go to my 9 to 5 drudge (which is actually more of a 3 to 11 since I work evenings), there seems to be little time left for what I actually want to do, which is to write. There is also the frustration which results from self-doubt. What am I writing for? Who will ready it? Will anyone read it? Will I ever be able to do this full-time and not have to go back to the factory? Am I good enough?

The best response I've been able to come up with is that we'll never know, none of us will, if we don't write, if we don't at least try. Walking through the book aisle at my local Wal-Mart or library provides an odd and unexpected sense of inspiration. All those books, all those magazines, all written by people who woke up and wondered if what they were writing would ever be good enough. They tried and they wrote and eventually what they wrote was good enough.

Which brings us back to step one: you must write. Even if it's just a paragraph, just a page. Even if it's just for a few minutes a day, you must write. Whether it's at your desk, on your laptop, on a notepad or a napkin, you must write. Every day. Make it a habit. Make room in your life for it or it'll never become your life.

© 2013 Daniel Petreikis

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