Why I Won’t Write About Writing
Writing is very popular topic on Medium, so I should write about it. But that’s why I won’t.
Writing is a popular topic on Medium, so I should write about it. But that’s why I won’t…after this.
First of all, I understand the irony in titling a post called “Why I Won’t Write About Writing” and then writing about writing. A bit misleading, I concede. But I assure you, this will be the only time.
Lately, I have seen an abundance of posts here on Medium about writing. Maybe those get curated more frequently and/or are popular. I don’t know. For me, they’re just not my cup o’ tea. But here’s why I won’t write about writing.
If you wanna write, then write.
I can’t give you “Ten Reasons to Write Your Memoir” or proclaim “How Writing Made Me Heart Heal” or promise “How I made 3k in One Month on Medium Writing About This”.
If you wanna write, then write.
Here’s the deal, the more you write the better you become. The better you become and the better your chances of being read. Following that logic, here on Medium and elsewhere in the world, the better you become, the better your chances of being read and then the possibility of you making some money.
But that isn’t guaranteed here or anywhere. And anyone that claims to have a formula for doing that is full of shit. Full stop.
A friend recently asked me if I loved writing.
“I dunno. I love Rufus and Lulu,” (They’re my dog and cat.)
Rolling her eyes she then asked, “Well, what would you do if you couldn’t write?”
“Whadda ya mean? Why couldn’t I write? I don’t think I understand the question.” (I promise, I wasn’t being obstinate.)
She leaned back, “What if you got hurt?”
“How badly? I mean, I couldn’t write if I were in a coma or dead. But outside of that, I can’t picture anything that would prevent me from writing.”
Looking up to the ceiling, she sighed and then said, “So you love writing.”
“I dunno. I wouldn’t say that.”
The truth? I don’t love writing. I love my dog and cat.
That said, I LOVE the way writing makes me feel when I have written something good. Nothing beats that. Nothing. But I’m not silly enough to think that means I’m great. I’m not. I’m not dumb enough to think people will read it. They probably won’t.
Look, I HATE going to the gym but I LOVE the way it makes me feel. I don’t have a hard body just because I go almost every day. The truth is I love chocolate and ice cream much more than going to the gym. I admit, I sometimes eat like a college student and snack like a six-year-old.
Aside from the eating and snacking, the same is true for writing. . . for me. I don’t LIVE to write but I LOVE the way it makes me feel. Writing helps me organize my inner self in many ways. If I didn’t write, I’d be one of the millions who walk around wishing they would write. Why they don’t is on them.
The other truth is, I’m either naive or arrogant enough to think I have something to say. But that in no way means anyone will listen (or read). The hubris comes from saying it anyway and understanding no one will read it.
That’s writing. Having the intestinal fortitude to put something down and show it to the world. It doesn’t mean fame, success, financial freedom or claps here on Medium. It only means you had the gumption to do it.
If you don’t have that kind of fortitude, no harm no foul. Just don’t whinge about it.
If you wanna write, STFU about it and write.
You wanna write poetry, write poetry. The more you do it, the better you’ll become.
You wanna write a screenplay, write a screenplay. The more you do it, the better you’ll become.
You wanna write fiction, write fiction. The more you do it, the better you’ll become.
Do you see the pattern? You wanna write, then write.
Full disclosure, I currently don’t rely on Medium or Freelancing as my main source of income. My goal on Medium is to cover the five dollars a month. If I have covered that, great. Freelancing work is hard and I pick it up where and when I can. My day job provides the sustenance for me, and Rufus and Lulu. Good or bad, that’s my life at the moment.
But if you do want to write or put something creative into the universe, you should take a little self-assessment. If you’re put off by not being great initially (because you won’t be) or you can’t stand criticism (and they will criticize) or someone saying that you suck (they most certainly will), then a creative life is not for you. The fact is, obscurity is the more likely scenario. And you have to be okay with that.
Why people are taught to genuflect at the altar of Steinbeck or Hemingway and have never read John Williams is beyond my understanding. Butchers Crossing and Stoner are two of the best, and most American, books I’ve ever read. But Williams remains a rather unknown writer. The other two? Not so much.
Now please don’t do the “Well, what about so and so? Their first poem/screenplay/book was huge!”
Bully for them, I say.
Of course, there are always outliers who wrote something amazing and are successful out of the gate. They’re outliers. The rest of us recognize that whatever your creative pursuit may be, it’s gonna be a slog. Sorry to burst the bubble, but the likelihood of someone tapping you on the shoulder and giving you the keys to the kingdom is so small you’d need an electron microscope to see it.
It’s possible, but don’t count on it.
You can’t learn creativity. You can teach someone how to write a sentence, how to plot drama and heighten tension, but you can’t teach them what to say. You can teach someone how to use a camera, but you can’t teach them how to see. That’s the creative part. Let me re-phrase that, you can learn creativity, but you can only learn it through hard work, practice and perseverance. Only through making mistakes can you learn to find your voice in your chosen medium.
There just aren’t any shortcuts.
Anyone, here on Medium or anywhere, that pretends to be some sort of seer who can unlock your creativity or hacker who has cracked the code on getting eyeballs for your work is lying. Worse is anyone who promises you money by following their . . . whatever.
What works for them simply may not work for you. It doesn’t mean you can’t try it but temper your expectations. Temper them a lot.
Writing, or creativity in general, isn’t rocket surgery. You just have to do it. Even if it’s simply sitting down and writing about how much you don’t want to write.
Do I read some of these posts about writing? Of course I do. Lately, it would be a statistical impossibility not to. Some have decent advice. Some simply share their stories and that has value. Some are just looking for eyeballs and claps. Whatever.
My message for my only post about writing is rather simple:
If you wanna write, then write.