MANY JOURNAL WRITERS write in other modalities in addition to their journaling. We have this urge to write, to tell our stories — personal and public, imagined and real, long and short. And those who are just beginning to write often wonder whether their writing will mean anything to anyone but themselves.
Eileen Flanagan’s advice to would-be writers, in her blog post “If You Want to Write,” is beautifully articulated. Most simply, she writes: “If you feel called to write, start writing.” She believes, “… there is much value in writing our stories, regardless of whether or not they are ever published or earn money ….” I recommend her post because it is simultaneously encouraging and realistic — a combination writers don’t often find in the same place.
Her post is a good reminder to remember why it is we want to write in the first place (to tell our stories, to make meaning of our lives, to share our experiences with others) and not get caught up in the whole I-must-get-published-and-make-money-or-I’m-not-a-real-writer hype. I have always maintained that if you write, you’re a writer. Period. End of story. You don’t have to have been published anywhere except in your private journal. You don’t even have to have shared your stories with anyone (though I hope you will at some point).
Encouraging writers to follow the urge to write is one of the reasons that Writing Through Life exists. We all have stories to tell; we all have lives that touch others’ lives; we all have something of value to give to others through the stories of our own experiences. In cultures with oral traditions, we might aspire to be storytellers, sharing our hard-earned wisdom around the campfire. But most of us live in a culture of words and print and moving media, and we turn to these media for self-expression.
Of course, as Eileen points out, once you become serious about your writing (that is, you take your writing seriously and begin doing it on a regular basis), you’ll want to hone your writing skills. That is one of the reasons why I include a Writing Tips section. Though it is admittedly geared more toward journaling, many of the tips are intended to help all of us to improve our skills. I also include a number of links (see the right-hand sidebar) to websites that offer writing resources.
Improving our skills is good and important, but let’s not allow ourselves to become discouraged or lose sight of the urge, the call to write, that brings us to the pen or keyboard in the first place. Writing is a process of discovery as much as it is a form of self-expression.
So I encourage and challenge you to stay true to what calls you to writing. Put in the seat time, and the results will speak for themselves.
Image Credit: Karin Dalziel