Writing well and authentically isn’t really as easy as people seem to think–it’s more complicated; like capturing a dream just after we wake up and making it real.
Writers go through it for themselves and for their unseen audience, and posterity as well.
They know their cherished dream will be poked at or ignored by judgmental people who’ve changed their minds needs and interests in the time it took me to complete this sentence.
Writing requires us to be super perceptive about ourselves and our world; and perception is a tool that’s sharp at both ends. We must constantly nick ourselves and our comfort zone.
- Writing for yourself requires a non-stop series of choices and decisions about big stuff, barely noticeable details, and everything in between. It’s the most powerful self-validation exercise you’ll ever do: even the final draft starts from scratch in a sense and–whatever your final result–will produce something that nobody else has ever given birth to.
Time to roll up your sleeves and return to work. As the great writer Paul Gallico reminded us back in the 1940s:
“It is only when you open your veins and bleed onto the page a little that you establish contact with your reader. If you do not believe in the characters or the story you are doing at that moment with all your mind, strength, and will, if you don’t feel joy and excitement while writing it, then you’re wasting good white paper, even if it sells, because there are other ways in which a writer can bring in the rent money besides writing bad or phony stories.”
Having a chance to tinker with words and ideas until our story connects with readers is why we’ll willingly accept all that bleeding.
“For your born writer, nothing is so healing as the realization that he has come upon the right word.”—Catherine Drinker Bowen
- We also write for an audience of strangers, hoping that somebody somewhere will help us validate ourselves. Our audience is more objective and we need them, so our first goal must be to cut through fogs of skepticism or distraction or doubt that stop people from reading a story for more than a few seconds.
A good writer is a kind of servant leader for his or her audience, trying to transform or educate or stimulate people they’ll never meet by caring about them enough to win them over.
“All readers come to fiction as willing accomplices to your lies. Such is the basic goodwill contract made the moment we pick up a work of fiction.” —Steve Almond
- Unless you happen to be named Emily Dickinson, everything you write is driven by a universal dream that someday what you’ve created will be picked up or stumbled upon by someone and will make a real difference to them. It is a legacy and an achievement you hope will be recognized for years or lifetimes to come.
“Every secret of a writer’s soul, every experience of his life, every quality of his mind, is written large in his works.” —Virginia Woolf
If you accept this challenge you’re ready to risk hearing the sound of crashing china or damp silence that greeted the last thing you published.
Writing is definitely not for sissies! Never attempt it without the help of a counseling expert.