Throughout our writing lives, we’re always transitioning. We go from ‘I just thought of something silly and wrote it down’ to ‘I write stories once in a while’ to ‘I write’ to ‘writing is a part of my everyday life’. It goes on from there but I’m still reaching for those transitions.
I think the hardest one for me so far was going from writing to writing everyday. That’s the first point where I had to sit down and have a talk with myself. I said, “Self, what the hell are we doing here? Do we really write well enough to do this thing for real?” I didn’t get the answer right away. In fact, it took me about two months to really come to a conclusion. Of course, the answer was yes but getting there wasn’t easy.
The first time I thought I might be serious about writing was when I got some “constructive criticism” at a writing group meeting. Actually, it was more like an attack on my writing style. She said that my voice was immature and if I kept writing like that, she would never read it. I quit. Surely, no one “got” my writing style and I wasn’t subjecting myself to any more pain. I’d always felt like my writing was a direct reflection of myself and by calling my writing immature, by extension, she called me immature. I didn’t write for a good month and half.
But then something happened. I got an idea that wouldn’t stop nagging at me–the only ideas writers get, of course. I thought about it for a while. I fleshed out some ideas. I put together an outline. And then I had to do it. I had to start writing it. So I did. Things started off well but soon I found myself falling into the same traps I’d always fallen into. It was time to, you know, do it or get off the pot.
And then the most beautiful thing happened–I did it!. I asked for help. It was the first time in my writing life that I realized I couldn’t be perfect as is and that if I ever wanted to become a better writer, I had to tell my pride to take a seat in the corner and ask for help, accept criticism. You see, once my head was clear of emotional clouding, I realized that my writing wasn’t necessarily an extension of me, it’s just something I do. And if it’s something I want to do well, I’ve got to be open to taking people’s opinions into account and using them to make myself a better writer. If I wanted to overcome my pitfalls, I had to do something different.
I bought books, read blogs, asked writing friends, even took a writing course and within a few weeks I noticed a drastic change in my writing. I’d finally started to grow into a writer that I was proud of. And I wasn’t the only one to notice. I went out on a limb to share my new writing with my close friends and I brought more than one person to tears.
Is everyone going to love what I write? No. Do I have to do everything someone suggests? Absolutely not. But there’s always room to grow. Every bit of criticism has something to be learned from. And that’s when I realized I’d become a real writer, a write-everyday writer, a damn-right-I’m-writing-a-novel writer. I’m nowhere near publishable yet. I still have plenty of improvements to make but the difference is that now I’m aware of it, I’ve accepted it and I’m doing everything I can to become the best writer I can be.
I did say not publishable…yet.