Quote of the Week: “Everything you’ve ever wanted is on the other side of fear.” George Addair
Writing Exercise of the Week: Look up and around you—what’s the first thing that catches your eye? Write for 10 minutes about what you see and go with whatever it brings up.
When I meet someone for the first time and they find out I’m a writer, some people will append their introduction to clarify that they are not a writer or creative person. They may even talk for a while about this, about how hard writing is, or how they’ve never been very good at it, or how they don’t understand how other people do it.
The irony is that I can take one look at that person and know that they can write. I’m not just talking about letters or reports or a note to the doctor. I’m talking about stories, essays, poems, and novels. I can look at them and see them as a writer, even if they can’t see it themselves.
Seeing yourself as a writer or creative person is an inside-out job. If you don’t believe yourself to be a writer, artist or creative person, no one else will be able to convince you otherwise. It’s more than the words you speak—it’s how you feel, what you deeply believe. Self-esteem is an ongoing challenge for anyone who is creative, present company included.
Here’s something you may not know: many writers, including bestselling authors, feel or have felt like fakes or wannabes at one or more points in their careers (and sometimes for their entire careers). They grapple with a sense of being the “real” thing, of being good enough, of wondering how the other “real” writers do it, because they themselves feel like wannabes. They were afraid to call themselves writers when they first started out, so instead they used words like “aspiring.” They were reluctant to commit to the belief that they were writers, just in case they weren’t.
So what makes a writer a writer? Writing is all about expression (of an idea, belief, and possibility) or translation (What does love really mean? What makes a family? Who am I?) If you are finding ways to express yourself, how can you not be the real thing? Standards are an external measure, an attempt to quantify self-expression. But you can’t really quantify self-expression, and the rules change every day.
Don’t be quick to deny yourself. If you want to write, write. Call yourself a writer. Believe you are a writer. Acknowledge that you are creative. Don’t let others define what that means and don’t explain or defend your desire/qualifications/reasons for writing. You can’t fake this stuff, even if you think that’s what you’re doing. If you’re taking the time to thoughtfully commit words to paper, you’re a writer.
And it’s very nice to meet you.
Darien Gee is a national bestselling author who lives with her family in Waimea. Her latest book, Writing the Hawai’i Memoir (Watermark Publishing), helps writers get the stories of their lives down on paper. Her next five-week memoir writing workshop begins July 22 at 6 p.m. at Waimea Community Education. You can also join her at Tutu’s House on July 10 at 10 a.m. for “Telling Your Story: An Introduction to Memoir.” Learn more at dariengee.com and miaking.com.