De-Schooling for Writers

Writing has always been a part of my life. Like many writers, I developed a love for books at a young age. Even before I could read I would sit with books in my lap making up stories based on the pictures. When I was 8 years-old I was introduced to writing poetry and I fell in love. Like many children, I was able to escape into the art of creating with little regard or care for the craft of writing. Excitedly I would share with my English teachers how I loved to write and quickly became dejected by the amounts of red that would splatter my papers.

While part of me always wished I could be disciplined like all of those others who took their work seriously most of me knew that what they were all missing was the fun. Creating was an act of joy, of fun, of play. It re-connects us with our inner child and allows us to dance and sing without caring what-so-ever about the end result. This, of course, was not what serious writers did. At least that’s what I was told. “Real writers” worked hard. It was an act of misery that forced them to create because they had to and all sorts of very dramatic imagery.

The truth is the idea that things-anything worth doing anyway-should be hard work and take lots of time seems to be entrenched in our society. As a child, I didn’t understand when someone would ask me how many drafts my poem took when often times I wrote them in one. Over time my inner child was silenced by my ever developing inner critic and I began to believe the hype. If I wanted to make writing my career I needed to start being serious about it. So I became serious many times during my transition into adulthood. And I stopped writing each and every time.

Now, I have never pretended to be a literary writer. The truth is I find most literary masterpieces extremely dull and depressing and I could care less that they are a representation of the angst of some time in history or blah, blah, blah. I write how I speak and passion often exceeds the rules of grammar.

The only thing that great writing needs is the ability to reach one person by the heart and have them say, “oh my god yes me too!”

I must admit though I am not immune to the delusions and I spent years upon years believing that I had to “work” at my writing. I had to work it. I had to make it hard and make it tough and I had to force those words onto the paper whether they liked it or not. I had to ignore everyone and everything and die for my writing.

Why on earth would I want to do that? It sounds absolutely horrible! Who on earth would choose to do something they love in such a way as to hate every moment of it? It is necessary right? If you want to be serious about something, if you want to make it your life’s work it needs to be work right?

I have come to the realization that it absolutely does not. If you love something you should love doing it. While there may be aspects of it you don’t love (editing, I’m looking at you) overall you do it because you love the actual act of doing it. Otherwise, it’s just a job.

So what about us writers who love to write? Who loves to create? Who still have our childhood playfulness when it comes to art? Those of us that may have taken a detour but at the end of the day believe we are still writers even if we end sentences with a preposition or contrary to every English teacher we ever had still write run-on sentences because those my friend are what really drives a point. What about us? How can we reconnect with our writing practice in a new way that honors both the creation and the act of creation?

First, we need to drop everything we have ever been told about being a writer. We need to shed all that others have defined creation to be and re-write the definition to for ourselves.

If our goal is to develop a writing practice then we must develop our writing practice. We need to take the time and sit with what we love about writing and create from there. Writing for you need not look like anything anyone else does because it is your practice and not anyone else’s. The only truth is that if you are called to writing then it’s because your voice is needed in the choir. Your voice, not the watered-down version that others find acceptable. Do not be silenced by the high-brow “professionals” and instead share your heart. The world is in need of more voices with heart.

Here’s to sharing our heart.

Until next time,

Michele, aka The Dreaming Dilettante

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