You Are a Writer. I Can Prove It.

   Think not? Take this simple quiz to find out.

1. Have you ever written a book?

* Yes _______

* No _______

   Don't worry, everyone flunks this one, even those who have written books. They don't believe in themselves enough to think that writing a book makes them writers. Writers are different from everyone else: tortured, broke, crazy, wounded souls living in decrepit lofts, drunk on Everclear, screwing everything that moves with or without legs. Admittedly it is a high bar. No one passes.

2. Have you ever written a greeting card?

* Yes _______

* No _______

   You probably have. If it was a real card, not pre-heartfelt pap written by someone else, then you put some thought into it. You had something you wanted to express which could not possibly be put into words ~ but which nevertheless somehow found its way from pen to paper. You sent it to someone whom you cared about enough to send your very best. By the time you mailed it you knew they would understand your message, resonate with it, even if you had to burn through fifteen cards to get it done.

   Bravo! You're a writer.

   What do you mean "no"? Not a single greeting card? Really, dude? Dude-ess?

   Shame on you! But still: on to next question.

3. Have you ever signed your name?

* Yes _______

* No _______

   (It used to be: "Have you ever written a check?". Now, with no one under fifty ever having used checks, I ask about the signing.)

   Sure you have. Even if (like me) your inner rebel, when asked to "pen" your "signature" on a "white screen of death" tablet to pay for a purchase, put artwork there instead, with (like me) a scraggly-toothed smile and a gibbous tongue hanging out and (like me) two googly eyes on stalks like the ones in the old 70s Zap Comix art ~ still, it was a recognizable work of art. It expressed your state of being. And the payment went through, didn't it?

   Your written signature is perhaps the most personal expression of your personality. And it is written. You get my point. Drift. Meaning. Message.

   You're a writer.

   A writer is simply someone who distills their inner being into words. Translating one's thoughts and feelings perfectly this way is an impossible task by definition, one which no writer has ever achieved. But the attempt to write something which will convey to others your story, your meaning, your deep truth, is what makes you a writer.

   Yes, you can be bad at it. Yes, you can get better. But you will never not be a writer.

   Good for you!!

Then why don't we write?

   There are as many answers to this question as there are writers who don't write. 

   But there are few prime suspects in the lineup, a few common reasons people keep signing for their bar tab with monster faces but never go further.

   I will be covering some of them -- and the fixes to try -- in later blog posts. For now, here's a suggestion that will help push through the fear, fog, and inertia, no matter what the reason.

   Start by writing gibberish. Well, there's a lofter name for it, journaling, but for this exercise is in intentionally called gibberish.

   This technique is the brain baby of Julie Cameron, espoused in her classic book The Artist's Way.  The Morning Pages is part of her program for those she calls "Recovering Artists".

   Begin with a regular-sized notebook and pen. Every morning fill three pages with writing. The idea is not to pause to consider, think or ponder. Just keep writing no matter what comes out. It might sound something like, "This is stupid, I have to go weed the garden before the sun comes up. Did I shut off the burner? What time is Brian coming over? Damn, I shouldn't have been so sharp with him the other day. I don't know what I'm doing here. This is stupid. I'm just writing gibberish. What's the point? I wonder if those journals came in the mail. Okay, gotta move, my butt's sore already. What time is it? This is stupid. "

   Don't stop, just keep moving the pen forward for three pages.

   Somewhere during this procedure, your busy-busy left brain will say, "This is stupid!" It will get very tired and annoyed. It will go away. Once the reasoning, linear-thought analytic left-brain scatters to the hills, your intuitive holistic right brain, the pathway to the subconscious, can finally breathe. And it's had a lot to say to you lately. You'll be surprised at how much.

   There may be days when the exercise seems like a waste of time. But by doing this consistently, soon you will find yourself more fired up about writing. The reasons you don't write will find their way onto the page. You'll feel excited about whatever creative enterprise you intend to pursue instead of dreading it.

   Then go out and do it!

Get all the help you can.

   I'll suggest another more recent book by Julia Cameron, "The Right to Write". This does for writers what "The Artist's Way" did for all artists. She lists the most likely culprits that keep us from our task, gives examples and illustrations which will probably hit home for you, and provides prescriptions for a cure.

Good luck, Jim!


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