I am participating in the “Writing Contest: You Deserve to be Inspired.” Hosted by Positive Writer.
I have come to realize something over the course of this last week…writing is hard sometimes.
For the majority of my life, reading and writing has come easily to me. I consider myself talented in the subjects of literature, spelling, etc. However, over the past week or so, I have been humbled concerning these topics. It all started when I decided to finally start writing a novel, which has been a quiet dream of mine for a long time.
Years ago in my sixth and seventh grade classes, I wrote a handful of short stories as part of English assignments from my teachers. I loved it! The creativity seemed to come easily because most of the lessons had a general topic and rubric to follow.
Around the age of 12, I wrote a story about an Egyptian pharaoh who was brutally murdered and then came back to life centuries later seeking revenge on the posterity of his enemy.
A year later, I wrote a short story of a young boy in the Renaissance era who started as a page and went through the rigorous process of becoming a knight. That same year, I also wrote a more personal and true story depicting my viewpoint of a terrible car accident that my family and I were in when I was only seven.
The difference with writing in grade school and writing now is that it’s my responsibility to choose the topic. It is up to me to decide whether the work will be fiction or non-fiction. Will it be part of our world or will I create a world of my own? I decide who the characters are and what intentions they have, whether good or bad.
This is where writing can get difficult.
Even as I have taken college classes, I find that writing comes somewhat naturally to me. I don’t say this to boast, but to show pride in my ability, which I have spent much time and effort to develop and progress.
In an attempt to counteract the showing of pride and arrogance, I will say that I’m terrible at math, singing, and have little to no athletic ability whatsoever. This would be me…
Anyway…Where was I?
Oh, yes…college classes. Similar to grade school, even college classes have rubrics, outlines, and additional specifics to follow. For my college history class, I’m given specific people or places to research and define in an essay. In my English class, the teacher requests a standard type of paper each week. One week it will be a research paper, another week he will want a persuasive essay, and the following week his assignment will be to write a rhetorical analysis of an article or video. Once again, specifics are given. Examples or ideas are shared to get you started. That is not the case when you make the decision to write on your own.
Since I made the firm choice to write a novel, I have had the toughest time deciding what to write about. I have sat at my desk and blankly stared at my screen, half hoping that the words would magically appear for me. I got to the point where I felt like maybe I simply didn’t have any ideas worth sharing and writing was only something I’d do for school. Maybe it was not what I’m meant to do in my life. After I had all but given up, I told my wife this realization of which I’d convinced myself…she lovingly laughed in my face.
It had only been a week! She made the wonderful point that when we have talents we tend to take them for granted, sometimes from the moment we gain the talent and other times after having taken the time and effort to develop it. When we are good at something we oftentimes forget that we still have much to learn before we are perfect at said talent.
That was my problem.
I had been a decent writer for a long time and didn’t realize until recently I still have so much to learn. My main issue was coming up with the ideas, which isn’t specifically writing, but is absolutely a critical part of the process.
Once my beautiful and wise wife helped me realize this, I humbled myself and started to study the art of writing again. I began by looking up ways to generate ideas for novels, both fiction and non. I found many resources, which I plan to share in this as I learn them myself. One example though, is asking others around you for insight. Ask your friends and family to tell you a story about themselves and see how you can twist their experience to develop a plot of your own. Give their story a touch of fantasy or sci-fi and see what you come up with from there. That’s only one idea so far.
In short, I have recently learned a few very important lessons:
1. The all-inclusive process of writing can be a difficult one. It can take time and patience and generally the words don’t simply write themselves onto the page.
2. Always allow yourself to be teachable. Never feel like you’re “good enough” or know as much as you need to. There is always something new to learn, something that someone else can teach you.
3. My wife is, and likely always will be, far more wise and intelligent than I am…Okay, I already knew that, but this was just another reminder.