I haven’t been writing a lot the last few weeks. With my job, this time of year is tough. I have to prepare my business for end-of-year taxes, so I get to huddle with the company bean-counters a lot the past few weeks. My partners and I also review the year and decide about bonuses, distributions, and next year’s budgets. Throw in the obligatory holiday events, vendor meetings and even personal holiday duties, I’ve had little time to write.
But through all the year-end cacophony, I keep hearing a little voice in my head. “You should write something”.
This is a shock.
When I decided to improve my writing skills by blogging several months ago, I assumed it would be a straightforward process. I’m reasonably intelligent, have a good vocabulary and have been known to string words together to form coherent thoughts and sentences. What I thought I was missing was practice. My writing skills had atrophied under the avalanche of emails and corporate legalese. I needed to knock the rust off of my creativity and since I could write a little back in college, it seemed like the logical choice. However, I soon made two important discoveries.
1. I NEVER knew how to write.
2. Writing is HARD.
Has my writing improved? I would argue it has. I’m far more mindful of run-on sentences and useless “babble” words I loved so much. My sentences are cleaner and concise now. This is still a work in progress, but I see positive results of my efforts.
My editing skills are demonstratively better; which is to say I HAVE editing skills now. After 25 years of writing emails, I thought I could just “eyeball” edit and hit submit. Ugh. In reviewing some of my earlier posts, I discovered the dark shadow hovering over my nascent writing ability was my over-developed arrogance. I now include an editing process to catch the more glaring errors. Like I said, it’s a work in progress.
For me, the hardest part of writing is deciding what to write. I tried hard to avoid controversial topics. With social media and the current political climate, it seemed like a raindrop in a rainstorm. I decided that if I wanted to learn how to write, I needed to be a little more creative in my topics. Well, guess what? That’s easier said than done. I would stare at an empty page for what seemed like hours, unable to put more than a few sorry sentences on the paper. In fact, a lot of my writing focused on my struggles with writing. (Just like this post. At least I’m consistent!)
I have no illusions. I’ll never be a great writer, but that isn’t my dream and wasn’t my goal when I started this experiment nine months ago.
But what has surprised me is no matter how frustrated this whole process can make me, I keep returning to it, again and again. Somewhere in all those balled pieces of notebook paper and gallons of wasted ink, I made another discovery.
I enjoy writing. It may not be good, interesting or noteworthy, but that’s OK. I can’t say I’ve found my “voice” yet. It still seems to be a whisper. But it’s there, murmuring in my head, “You should write something”.