There are some labels for myself I find hard to apply. Like “Runner.” Or “Woman.” Because it feels like I should be more accomplished or have more talent to use these terms, it’s at the point where in conversation, I will actually use air quotes to qualify them.
And an obvious one, and perhaps most loaded of all: “Writer.”
What does it mean to be a Writer? How does one become qualified, or display talent in writing?
One, you need perspective. There is nothing worse than trying to write when you have nothing to say (or read when they have nothing interesting to tell). Having a perspective means saying something, saying anything, from your actual (or perceived) point of view.
On good days, I indulge myself by believing that I am funny… or, at least, that I have a good sense of humor in laughing at and with the world. Writing is a way that I can share this perspective. I know I’m silly. I know that I find silly things funny. And maybe if I describe it well enough through my writing, you will too. Besides, I’ve tried being funny in real life and I acknowledge the story tangents and giggling make it hard to follow.
Two, you need practice. I know there are all sorts of theories about the number of hours needed to develop expertise. Whether it’s to build muscle memory or strengthen neural paths in the brain, there seems to be no substitute for investing time and energy.
It seems I have always been writing. Fortunately it has evolved from scribbles in my brother’s textbook and diary entries about Rainbow Brite, to ‘serious’ journaling and sending handwritten cards at Christmas. And more recently, I get my practice through blogging, writing fiction, and creating autobiographical newsletters.
Three, you need pleasure. For pleasure is the reward for doing a particular task. Like Duhigg describes, habits are a loop that end in reward… or rather can begin it. Brains.
I love writing. I do. I love the expression of creativity within structure. I seek out rhythm when stringing words together. I love the time I can take in making myself known clearly.
I once was buying running shoes, and the salesperson referred to me as a runner. I balked at the time. But when he asked me how many miles I was running, I realized in my marathon training that I was running quite a bit. I wasn’t fast. And I didn’t have the classic runner body. But I was doing it.
And now, here I am, doing it. I’m doing “writing.” I’m not fast. But I do have the body of someone who sits a lot. I’m a Writer sans air quotes. Because I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and doggone it, people like me.