“How will I know what I think until I see what I write?”
I’ve always loved this quote because it makes the link between writing and thinking rather explicit. That’s important when working with students or developing writers. Because we write, we think. When we don’t write, our thinking suffers.
Writers are different from most people because they take the time to write. That act of will is a necessity not a luxury. But just imagine how difficult life must be for someone who continually says, “I don’t know what to write?” Writing teachers deal with that daily so they learn to view writing as a process. That process begins with some form of prewriting that stimulates some deeper connection. It begins with the heart…the pure, authentic self. For reluctant writers, the process is aided by talk. I’ve seen young writers go from having nothing to say to joyful focus because of a 10 minute conversation that elicited something buried deep inside.
OK, no more stories about the writing process. Just one important reminder for those of us who write professionally. The last step of the process is to put it out there. You’ve got to put it out there. That means either publication or reading, or both. Fortunately, with the technological revolution now underway, it’s not all that difficult to do. Risky, however, is another matter. Still, we must not allow ourselves to be held captive by other’s ideas about our writing. The author still has the authority, I say. With that in mind, let me paraphrase the wisdom of Woody Guthrie and “tell you something you already know.” Share your writing with others. Submit something somewhere. Enter a competition, sign up for an open mic, take a shot. The rewards far outweigh doing nothing. Complete the process.