My dad liked to tell me “Honey, a writer writes. You have to practice each day in order to get good. It’s like anything – takes hard work and practice.” He even gave me some books on the subject. “On Writing Well” and “Writing Down The Bones” and probably a few other books too. The problem was, I didn’t think of myself as a ‘writer’, but rather as ‘a person who writes.’
There’s a difference. A ‘writer’ is someone who dedicates time and hard work to the art and craft of the written word. ‘A person who writes’ is an occasional thing, a hobby, something done randomly for the pleasure of it.
Over the years, I’ve done both. I’ve been a professional writer and have been paid for my works, I’ve won prizes for poetry, I’ve kept this hobby of a website up since July 10, 2003 (in various incarnations), and I’ve kept a journal since fourth grade. I am a writer. I am a person who writes.
I have never given much credence to the idea of “New Years Resolutions,” but this year I decided to at least make a solid run at being a writer who writes. The idea was to be more consistent with my posts here. Put up something new every Monday or some-such. It would force me to work on the craft of writing, to pay more attention to the output instead of my usual stream-of-consciousness post I usually send out. I was going to write something here each week regardless of how I felt. Not feeling inspired? So what. Nothing coming to mind? Deal with it. When I was in high school I complained to my dad that my history teacher was an idiot (he really was) and that the reason I cut class so often was because it was a waste of time to sit in there and not learn anything. My pop replied that in any situation there is always something to be learned. Maybe I could learn how to be more patient, maybe I could learn what not to do as a teacher and use those skills in other aspects of my life. There is always something. So, with this writing problem – there is always something to write about. Theoretically. Right, pop?
One of the reasons I dislike New Years Resolutions is because it seems like a fake promise to yourself. You only promised because everyone else was doing it. If you really wanted to do X, you would pick a random date and start. Instead, New Years Eve has become a high-pressure date. I hear “What is your New Years Resolution?” practically everywhere I go. Work, a bar, dinner with friends…. Why put that much undue pressure on yourself? If you don’t follow through, instead of just chalking it up to “Okay, I didn’t complete that this time, I’ll just try again,” instead you have BROKEN YOUR NEW YEARS RESOLUTION! Bad you!
Here it is Wednesday, January 8th 2014 and this is my first post, a week into the New Year. It is not Monday. I am not writing because I have a deadline for myself to post something by tonight. I’m writing because the thought struck me “a writer writes” and I started to think about my dad and those books he gave me and my wishy-washy New Years Resolution.
So, for what it’s worth, I will try. I will try to write something each week. I’m warning you up front that this experiment might lead to some pretty sucky posts.
Hope you stick around for it.