Monday, January 9, 2012

The 'Could Have' Refrain and Drain

Consider that you could have climbed Mt. Everest by now, even though most people would never choose that as a goal. Personally, I won't go where pens can't flow and the oxygen level makes it difficult to think. But the idea is that writers must make monumental sacrifices to prove our worth.

This shows in the arbitrary amount of words, pages or books that some writers believe they must put together as the only way to become a true writer. It plays out in the dozens or hundreds of ways we challenge ourselves before allowing hope to overcome the "could haves" we adopt along the way.

That "could have" refrain drains the life out of our fledgling dreams of relevancy. It differs from the "can do" we must adopt to head off the doubt and an insane sense of shame in believing that we can write. Think about how many writing exercises teachers and others have given us that are supposed to encourage flights of fancy, but more times become another way for us to say what we could have done to make it good enough to impress, earn a good grade or win a prize.

At the right time, when you are confident that your genuine voice and writing can survive these pressures to conform and perfect, you can take a course or read a book about how to market your writing. For now, enjoy where words take you. Play with them, write the colors that they remind you of. Try describing the smells of childhood, the pain from your first heartbreak, the funniest or weirdest thing you have ever thought or believed.

Take a notebook or paper with you and a small pen. Use a napkin, if you are drawn to an idea or something you overheard and it grows. Or don't.

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