Have you ever tried to tell somebody how much you love them but it didn’t come out quite like the way you wanted it to? When the words were in your head, it felt perfect, but then you spoke… and the magic was gone. If you’re lucky, the recipient smiled and said something nice in return. If you’re having a bad day, he/she laughed in your face. Really loud.
But the reaction is beside the point. What really bothers you is the feeling of not having said what you really had in your head a minute before.
Writing is a lot like that.
When you start out to pour your thoughts on a blank page, the words are all jumbled up. Writing can be a painful experience because we try to capture and express things inside our hearts that are nigh impossible to describe. Words reduce them. Limit them. Make them seem almost ordinary.
I believe that’s one of the burdens of being a writer. We have the sacred task of conveying the ethereal into the tangible realm. We are like knights in pursuit of the Holy Grail. We’re always looking out for the best way to tell the story, to say what we mean.
Every time we sit to construct worlds, record events or tell stories, it’s like our personal call to war. Our enemy is that blank page and our task is to fill it with words. The right words.
Every writer who is serious about his/her craft obsesses over every word, every paragraph, every published piece, be it in a book, on a blog or even an SMS. It comes with the calling. As a writer, your calling is not just to say something, but to say it in the best possible way.
If you’ve ever written a piece and wondered, “maybe I should have approached it this way instead of that”, you are on this journey.
If you’ve ever read the writings of the maestros – Dickens, Austen, Twain, Ngugi, King, Lehane – and wondered, “when will my writing ever get this good?”, you are in the right company.
We all start the journey unsure of ourselves. The first step is always the shakiest. I remember reading some of my first articles I wrote when I was 20. It was soooooo terrible. But as I read, I saw the seeds of a pilgrim looking for the right words to convey messages from his soul back then. I did a little rewrite and the article became something I could show to the world.
The journey is long. All your favorite authors started this same journey right where you are now, feeling what you’re feeling. Today, they may be a little more confident, a little more competent, but they are still on this journey. They still search for the right words to say what they want.
Just like you.
So keep searching. And keep writing. You’re not alone.
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