As a writer, the things that I often found myself most frustrated with were typically the same things that would, later down the road, prove to provide the most growth. For example, things like: set topics, character development, world building, outlines, criticism from others etc. An appreciation of English and a general knowledge of grammar and punctuation would also fall into that category but let’s not get too crazy just yet.
Somewhere around sixteen or seventeen, I can’t quite remember the exact time, I decided to enroll in a writer’s course. At that time, I hadn’t published any of my work but I had written quite a few poems, scripts, children’s stories, short stories and even a mini book series. I knew I wanted to be a writer but I had no idea the career paths I could take that involved the hobby I loved so much.
I received a bunch of books to get me started on the course. This was great in theory but, at the time, I was young and not as committed to the talent I had been blessed with. Just on a side note, when a lot of people, even strangers, say you’re good at something, you might take notice and if possible, find a mentor in that field to help further your skill.
Anyway, I had unknowingly classified myself as a free spirit with my writing and all these “right ways to do things” were kind of cramping my style. Looking back, I wasn’t a free spirit, I was just young and a total rule follower. All throughout school I was quick to do things the way I was told to do them to ensure the proper boxes were checked and I got the gold star. When it came to writing, it was my escape from rule following. I was a good kid; writing was my rebellious outlet.
I never hung around with kids who cussed or did drugs. But in my stories, I could explore the world through many different outlets without getting in trouble. If I wanted to throw in a cuss word because this character was in a gang, it made sense to do so and nobody would think too much about it.
Having this writing school suddenly apply rules to my outlet felt defeating. Their “follow our steps to success” was halting the flow. I knew people already enjoyed reading what I wrote so I wasn’t sure how their advice would actually help me.
I mean, their assignments seemed to be taking me away from my style of writing not strengthening it, or so it seemed.
They wanted me to look at a picture of bears doing various activities and write a story for it. That was totally not my thing. I had my own ideas. My mind was already filled with topics to write about. How was this assignment going to help?
Twenty years later, I can admit to how young and stupid I was at the time. Maybe even somewhat arrogant in the skills I thought I had. If only I could rewind time now that I recognize their skills would have improved my outlet rather than destroy it. I could be somewhere much different from where I am now.
Challenge for You: Take a moment today to ask yourself why you enjoy writing. What is your preferred style and what do you like most about it?
In the blogs to come here is what you can expect,
- It’s taken me a while to accept that writing is more than a hobby to me. It is something engrained in me.
- Every blog will feature a “Challenge for You” moment. It will be something for you to take away for the day.
- Tip of the Day. Every blog will also feature a tip to recap what I wrote about.
If you happen to be like me, a rule follower, in most areas of your life, then you may find yourself getting frustrated with me at times. These blogs will not feature set rules to improve your writing. Instead, they will feature lessons I learned along the way about myself as a writer and the skills I was trying to perfect. For me, these things go hand and hand. When I set my mind to improve myself, I also improve my writing and when I lack discipline so does my writing.
I don’t want to weigh you down with rules to follow, make you think I have all the answers, or convince you my way is the best way. As a writer, you are an artist. You have your own style and I have my own. Your style will reach people and so will mine. So, let’s take the time to appreciate and develop it.
Tip of the Day: Open yourself to be teachable.The world is the same and yet ever changing. For this reason, there is always something “new” for us to learn, or “new” ways to look at the same thing. Think of yourself as a lump of clay. Every day you are alive you’ll receive a small chunk of clay to add to the original lump. You can never go back to where you started on day one but you can continue to shape yourself as long as you stay moldable.