What I Mean When I Talk About Writing: Part 1

For the longest time, I’ve been hesitant to talk about writing. I think a part of me wants to keep quiet, afraid that if I talk about it, like a dream, it will stop working. Another part of me thinks who am I to talk? Most of the time it feels like I’m flailing about with words, and the times I get published are simply me blundering into the right room at the right time.



I know there are people out there with better insight – they keep blogs where that’s what they do – they talk about the craft. They’re constantly creating content – about how to build a character or how to find a theme or how your writing space has to be the right color of mauve. They’re attending conferences and helping other writers polish their work. But here’s a secret thought I hold close most of the time: I don’t actually see them writing.

Don’t get me wrong – I think part of what they’re doing is somewhat useful. They help aspiring or unsure writers with their confidence, they show them in articles what they might be doing wrong, or they help organize meet and greets where people get to sit and talk about the work. But that seems to be the line. It’s a cottage industry, writing about writing or talking about writing. It’s another for-profit endeavor, and the more I think about it, the more it annoys me, because what’s actually happening is that all of this time spent making charts and outlines and chatting and pontificating is time spent not actually writing. Here’s another secret I’ve learned over a long career: If you want to get better, sit down and write.


Ugh, words.

Stop talking about it endlessly, stop thinking it to death, and stop procrastinating because you got the No. 3 pencils and they’re Farber, and you really wanted some Pentel mechanicals. Write, then show it to people, then write some more. Write until you hate it, write until you love it, and write until you hate it again, yourself, and the world. Get the idea down, then go back and edit. Read an article about how to bring theme out, or metaphor. But first and foremost, WRITE. That’s secret number three. You can’t get better at something without starting to do it.

That said, I’m going to do what working writers rarely do, and open up a bit of my brain over a couple of posts. I’m going to share what it’s like for me to create, and hopefully, you find it interesting. But don’t take it necessarily as advice. What works for me maybe doesn’t work for you. That’s the nature of creativity. Some people get inspired by a song on the radio. Others have to smear themselves with peanut butter and take the A-Train to Boston. Whatever works. Instead, think of it as me opening my skull up, and for a minute, you can see the gears inside. In the meantime, go make something.


Sure. That, uh, works.


2 thoughts on “What I Mean When I Talk About Writing: Part 1

  1. I imagine most writers are probably flailing about, but keep it under wraps. Duck feet under the surface, that whole saying. And if they’re not flailing now, they certainly were at one point but have grown less flaily with lots of practice. In other words, you’re not alone! There were plenty of times where I was like, “what even are words, how does words go, I don’t, how, what, AAAGH.” Haha. But you’re right that *doing* is what makes us better. This part really rang true: “You can’t get better at something without starting to do it.”

    I’m looking forward to your upcoming posts. I always like peeking into other authors’ brains and seeing how they do things. It’s interesting, and also comforting to know we all go through the same things.

    Liked by 2 people

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