Finding Your Voice

writingI find that people are often just as afraid of writing as they are of mathematics. Because putting ideas into words is therapy for me, I find it difficult to understand why anyone would be reluctant to become an author. I suspect that I would write even if not a single person were to read my finished product. The process of creating a written record helps me to organize my thinking and gives me a purpose. If I happen to create something that appeals to others as well, that is all the better.

I tell people all of the time that the best way to start is to decide on a topic, mentally outline what you want to say and then just begin putting the words on paper as quickly as possible. It doesn’t matter if the sentences are perfect or even if you repeat yourself. The first draft is just the beginning. When you re-read what you have written you will know what kind of changes need to be made. The more you practice, the easier the process will become. Before long you will literally be able to write about any topic with fluency.

I suppose that I first began to rehearse the art of writing when I was in high school. For four years my English teacher gave me and my classmates a theme assignment every single Monday. The essay was to be based on a single word, a phrase, or a sentence. The final draft was due exactly one week later. When I was a freshman completing this task it was agonizingly brutal. I stewed over what to say all week long and usually spent my Sunday evenings sweating bullets as I attempted to find something, anything to put on the blank paper that stared arrogantly at me. Over time I felt less and less challenged by the task. I suspect that my English teacher realized that all of us would become better at crafting essays the more often we attempted to perfect our skills. Today I would actually enjoy having someone provide me with a prompt and I doubt that it would take me more than a couple of hours to knock out a fairly interesting piece.

Being open and personal always makes for a good story. It is amazing how many people identify with the things that I speak of in my essays. The human experience is fairly universal. We all have fears, dreams, tragedies, triumphs and joys. Everyone appreciates knowing that they are not alone. Good writers touch hearts, impart wisdom and make people laugh. We live in an unpredictable world. One day we feel like kings and another the sting of betrayal pulls us back to earth. Writing about our feelings and ways of dealing with them actually helps us as much as anyone else who happens reads our thoughts. I suspect that blogging has become as popular as it is because it actually assists those of us who write in dealing with the many facets of living.

I never really know what to write about on any given day. Sometimes a random post on Facebook inspires me. At other times I feel compelled to take a stand on a particular issue. I may be feeling nostalgic and desirous of walking back into history. There are times when I read about something quite interesting and want to share what I have learned. My favorite pieces are about the people that I know, for they are remarkable and I want everyone to meet them. Some days I am sad as I write, others I am angry. Most of the time I just feel happy to have the time and the means to do the one thing that really turns me on.

As I’ve already noted, I haven’t always found writing to be as easy as it now is. I had to first make a multitude of mistakes. It was sometimes a tedious task and I tended to procrastinate when the muses were not kind to me. Somehow I kept at it and over time the skill of writing became like muscle memory for an athlete, I almost did it without having to think very hard. I truly believe that the process became easier with each iteration. The best advice I might give is, “Just do it!” Perhaps you may want to simply write inside a private journal in the beginning. Let your mind be free and allow the thoughts to simply flow. Go wherever your mind takes you and enjoy the ride. Float on the waters and gaze at the blue sky. In other words, relax and don’t make a big deal out of whether or not you are creating the next great novel or editorial or memoir. Do it for yourself and make the words speak of something that you love. Eventually you will get the hang of it.

Today as I write I’m filled with many random thoughts, all of which might make good future topics. I’m disgusted that the Republican party seems have chosen Donald Trump as its presumptive nominee for President. I doubt that I will write anymore about this fiasco because I have already made my own opinions quite clear and there is nothing that I might add that will change reality or anyone’s mind.

I have found myself contemplating the phase of the parenting cycle that occurs when our children are adults and raising their own little ones. Maybe I will one day compose a piece talking about how our interactions with our offspring should evolve over time but it will be very short essay because essentially once the kids are adults all we need do is leave them alone and support and love them as they make their own way through life.

I’ve thought of beginning a mystery serial that continues from day to day rather than talking about different topics each time I write. That might be fun but terribly challenging and I’m not sure that I am ready to go in that direction yet. The idea crosses my mind frequently along with an outline for a book for young adolescents that I have mentally outlined hundreds of times. I just wish that there were more hours in the day that I might use for my favorite hobby.

Right now I’m camping with friends and they are sitting around a fire wondering how I might possibly be so engrossed with my laptop inside my trailer when it is beautiful outside. I plan to join them shortly and no doubt find material for future essays as we converse and commune with nature. The material for writing is truly everywhere.

I challenge those of you who have been thinking of writing to take the leap of faith. The only way to know if being a writer is truly something that you will enjoy is to take a few baby steps. Just start at the beginning and move forward. We may one day be celebrating a talent that you never realized was yours all along.

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