I Wanted to Be a Writer. So I Made a Deal With Myself…

I first had the idea about 10 years ago that I wanted to write a book. It had been in my intuition for long before, but 10 years ago was the first time I let myself explicitly think that thought.

Similar to Augustine of Hippo praying: “Grant me chastity and continence, but not yet.” I found myself wanting to write…but not yet.

A few months ago, the tremors that precede big decisions and commitments started shaking at my foundation. I knew I had to write. I run two businesses and both rely on me communicating my values and philosophies to two very different groups of people. (content marketers and link builders, and women looking to cultivate their femininity and improve their relationships)

If I was going to accomplish the things I wanted to accomplish, I needed to become a writer.

But I didn’t know how to be a writer. English was my worst subject in school. I hated writing and read only one book from cover to cover in high school (The Great Gatsby. It fit well with my painfully hopeless romanticism at the time.). I don’t actually understand grammar. I over-use commas, and hyphens. I can only spell (relatively) well because I’m anal retentive. I don’t have a large vocabulary. I don’t know what my “voice” is. I end sentences with the passive voice. I’m proud of myself when I manage to catch it.

But I can ramble… So at least I can get something out, even if it’s horse shit.

I went through all of my excuses. There were a lot.

I’ve struggled with identity stuff most of my life. When I rock climbed, even when I was climbing 3-5 days a week, I hesitated to call myself a rock climber. Even though I’ve started several businesses in my life, I hesitate to call myself an entrepreneur. Even though I’ve been lifting weights for several years, I hesitate to call myself a weight lifter. And so on and so forth.

But, all the while, I’ve known one thing, even though I didn’t want to know it: I am defined by what I do.

And I realized that “being a writer” didn’t mean any of those things that I was making excuses about. To me, at least right now in these early days, “being a writer” means hitting that publish button.

So that’s what I do. Every day. And I’ll get better at it. I’ll learn grammar. I’ll expand my vocabulary. I’ll practice designing narratives. I’ll write X words a day. I’ll publish every day. I’ll take the hard criticism. I’ll remind myself of all of that for as long as it takes for me to commit to being a decent writer.

But right now, three weeks in, I’m a writer only because I’m hitting publish every day.

And, so far, it’s at least fun (for me, not you) being a shitty writer.

{Hits publish.}

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  1. Love this, Ben. Keep going!

    Reply

  2. I think that sounds like a great plan! Looking forward to the publishings :)

    Reply

  3. My girlfriend is a college English professor. We will help you. I’ve always thought that you communicate your ideas well.

    Reply

  4. Roy’s Writing Tools in iTunesU offers awesome writing tips in 1-5 minute episodes. Great stuff. https://itunes.apple.com/us/itunes-u/roys-writing-tools/id380130686?mt=10

    Grammar Girl is a great site to learn grammar – http://grammar.quickanddirtytips.com/

    Reading really helps my writing, and I suspect it’s the same for other intuitive types. The key is to start reading *whatever* you want to read. Once you’re reading more regularly, then try to challenge yourself. I really struggled with reading in high school (after being an excellent reader in elementary school). I also didn’t read many books cover to cover. Spent my 20s reading nonfiction (easier) and now really digging into both modern and classical fiction in my 30s.

    Reply

    • Awesome. Thank you, Nathania! I have occasionally come across Grammar Girl, but haven’t gone through it with the purpose of studying it. And Roy’s looks great.

      I’ve noticed something similar with reading. I’m paying attention to things in a very different way than I have previously. I’m reading a bit less for content and also letting myself enjoy certain styles. I might give fiction a shot again…it’s been about a decade and a half or so ;)

      Reply

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