I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not the most eloquent speaker. When talking, I’ll get nervous, stammer, trip over words, forget words mid-sentence - you get the idea.
I’m not sure why that is. I was a shy child and generally kept to myself. I think a part of me has always been somewhat afraid of saying the wrong thing. I believe that’s why I started writing in the first place - it gave me an outlet to express what I couldn’t or was afraid to verbalize. I can take my time and really think about what I want to say, and express it in the most concise way possible.
I also think that’s why I gravitated to poetry and journalism in my formative writing years. There’s an art to expressing a thought, feeling, or idea economically. When I’m speaking, unless I have a script in front of me, I’ll talk until I find exactly what I want to say. I don’t have the option to go back, edit, and revise (which is a nightmare when you work in communication).
In spite of that, I enjoy talking about writing.
I’m not so self-absorbed as to think I might inspire someone to take up writing; however, if I can offer guidance to prospective writers, I will gladly do so. Without the support and guidance of teachers I had in both high school and college, as well as the support I received from my peers, I guarantee I wouldn’t be writing for a newspaper right now - most certainly not at the skill level I feel I have.
With that said, I’m writing this column for those of you with the “writing bug.” Maybe some of you will be going through the same thing. Maybe you’re afraid to start writing because you’re worried you won’t be good at it. Maybe you’ve wanted to write for a long time, but aren’t sure where to begin. Or maybe you just need an outlet to vent emotions. Whatever you’re reason for writing, if you have the desire, nurture it. Don’t let it slip away.
My advice to new or even seasoned writers is to learn as much as you can about writing. Try all kinds. And, as the late, great William Faulkner said, read everything. Also, if you have the means, taking a college writing class or two will help tremendously. But most of all, write, write, and write some more. Make mistakes. Learn from them. Just like with anything else, practice leads to improvement.
There are a multitude of opportunities waiting for you, prospective writers. Take advantage of them.