Chances are, unless you avoid it altogether — which would take a lot of effort — YOU are a writer. Be it email or note cards or the occasional report or marketing copy…to name but a few examples of when writing is done; and writing is needed.
If you post on Facebook or LinkedIn, or even if you Tweet more than links, you are a writer.
As a species (except for those of us who were born mute and/or deaf) we are wordsmiths, willingly or out of necessity.
Some seem born with a storytelling gene (lol).
Some develop the skill to make their mark in the world.
Some hire others to be their instrument for capturing the story they can tell but will not write themselves.
I’ve had the pleasure, honor, and adventure of working with all three major types of writers:
the willing and eager,
the willing and resistant,
and the unwilling but wise enough to delegate and collaborate.
Why do I write? Since I was nine years young, I have been writing “something.”
I understand that I write to self-express, self-soothe, self-evaluate, stay self-aware, and to integrate what I experience daily. I write to learn from what I observe, share it with others, be of service, and, ultimately, to understand better my personal history — that it might support my evolution as a human being in all my relationship roles.
I write that I may first honor what happens in my life, then learn from it, then support others who learn from what they read — and if it inspires others to take up writing for self-discovery, ALL the better.
I write for both sacred and mundane and practical purposes.
Back in 2010, I facilitated a weekly Writer’s Support Group for the Reticent Blogger at a most magical venue, — Friends, Philosophy and Tea House in Bellevue, Washington.
One Tuesday in early August, Warren showed up for the weekly event. That week he was the new guy.
Our group of 14 met in the Yoga Room. We were bursting at the seams to fit one more chair in that room — but we liked being cocooned in that space (until we outgrew it and 16+ were coming each week.)
Warren was a career executive with an impressive resume of Business Development, Marketing, and Organizational Development — with an equally impressive academic background in Applied Mathematics. He was also Australian, candid, funny, sharp-witted, outspoken, and he had been recently laid off. He was broadening his activities beyond playing tennis and looking for his next assignment. He had discovered Biznik, where our weekly group was promoted. He had also recently self-published a book on his British-Australian lineage that went back to the 1600s! That impressed me and every person in our circle that day. We implored him to bring the book with him the next time he might come. He committed to nothing.
Warren was curious about one big thing that day — that remains a peak experience in my memories of him and the Writer’s Support Group:
“Why does someone write for anything other than business (or profit)? What’s the point? I can’t see it.”
Writing for business, finance, sales, marketing, that he could do well, and he saw the value. Writing for personal reasons made no sense to him. He couldn’t see the point of it.
I remember telling a friend later that night how a bright, charming, curmudgeon of a person had attended my writer’s support circle that day. Warren’s wit and his accent had impressed me. Everybody weighed in on the benefits they got from writing and the weekly support of the circle. That lively meeting warmed my facilitator’s heart. I was hoping that Warren didn’t feel singled out for dissenting.
I also presumed he’d not be returning based on the last thing he said before leaving:
“Thank you for an interesting afternoon experience.”
To my surprise, he emailed me late that night, still perplexed by his experience earlier that day. I thoughtfully replied as is my MO and did my best to remain detached. (For I can’t make anyone change their tune about writing now can I?)
To my great surprise, the next week he showed up again.
That fine summer day of August 2nd, on his inaugural visit to the weekly meet-up, was the last day he clung to that “reality.”
He started a blog.
He wrote personal stories each with a lesson that could be applied to life (and business).
He took the idea I suggested to him to fictionalize his families’ “most interesting” history.
He started with short stories.
He laced them together into a novel.
He got curious about writing from a female perspective.
He took on a female pen name, tried it out, and succeeded.
He started coming to the Thursday night working group that gathered at the Tea House to do timed writing with prompts of all kinds.
Those were the days of Steve, Karin, Fai, Pat, Deborah, and Warren. And, there were others who came and went, but we had our core group. We wrote. We shared. We laughed. We’d repeat for 90 minutes weekly. It was a beautiful weekly ritual.
Then Warren got an offer to return to work.
And, he kept writing, for now, he was hooked. He made time for it — changed man that he was.
Last time I had lunch with him and Fai at Molbak’s in Woodinville, he handed me a brown paper bag with a copy of each of the volumes of stories he had written and self-published.
Four volumes of stories to date.
A historical novel.
With another novel in development.
He berated me that my memoir was still undone. (And, it still is a #workinprogress)
He made time for writing EVERY DAY.
I sidestepped the critique by reminding him we had Fai’s finished novel, Le Maurais to celebrate.
Warren is one of many who came to the Writer’s Support Group on Tuesdays at the Tea House from 1–2:30 pm. It became part of his new set of rituals. He was one of many engaged in the dialogue around writing and why one writes.
On a weekly basis, for 2.5 years, a couple dozen people gathered, held space, and gave great advice to each other — and we forged friendships too!
A lot of writing got discussed.
A lot of writing got done after each weekly pow wow.
In the month of November 2011, our blogger version of NaNoWriMo produced over 100,000 words with 25+ active contributors.
The commitment was a simple one.
Five times a week.
100+ words a post.
We were a community of people who loved and/or feared writing. Those of us who loved it supported those who feared it — as they overcame the resistance they felt. People grew as writers by helping each other. Ours was a respectful circle that made a newcomer feel welcome immediately.
In August of 2012, my favorite venue closed its doors. That was a sad day, but we all accepted the reality. And, while efforts were made to find a new home for our circle, none could hold a candle to the Tea House.
Writing kept showing up on the community blog. Karin Q started the Salon at her place. Others carried on independently. Books got written. Blogs got posted, micro-blogging on Facebook happened, and I began working on an all-encompassing project…even though I had said yes, to a half-time commitment. [BA3]
Things always take more time than we imagine.
There were always other writing projects and clients too, but the big focal point of my work for nearly five years (until this May) was to support the larger vision of someone who had engaged my services as a writing coach, editor, marketing specialist, and content development strategist. We (aka the team) collaborated on books, a lot of blogs, and an online course derived from the main title.
WHAT a journey it was and remains.
I tend to immerse myself in supporting clients as they developed their writing and communication skills, as they develop their stories, their brand, and their online presence. The way I see it, it’s all interconnected.
It’s satisfying work to see someone grow and evolve as a writer, speaker, presenter, and first and foremost a person.
It’s gratifying to see a client, a colleague, or a friend say YES to “bolder, shameless, self-promotion” that remains aligned with who they are.
In a word: Authentic.
Now, whether you enjoy writing is an entirely different conversation.
When people tell me they don’t like writing and avoid it because they don’t think they are good writers, I ask with pure child-like curiosity, “Who was the first person to suggest that you weren’t good at writing? What exactly happened!?”
For some it takes a pregnant pause to recall that early peak experience of feeling critiqued, shamed, or discouraged.
For most, there is a story buried in memory that rises from the depths of the subconscious mind. Some said, they simply knew that they didn’t like writing.
And, at that point of recognition, we have something we can work with and transform — if that is what is wanted.
The Critic is strong in all of us — AND it can be tamed, put in its place, and accessed in ways that are helpful.
The Perfectionist can become an ally; active when needed and quiet when appropriate.
The Creator exists in all of us — AND it needs support and encouragement (from both inside and outside).
The Writer can be cultivated and could become an integral part of your inner leadership committee. (Who is running the show in your life?)
Knowing you want to enjoy writing for business or personal reasons might involve adopting practices that are not second nature to you.
Knowing you want to embrace marketing and promoting your work might also require adopting practices that are not second nature to you.
Mastery of what is not second nature will always involve hard work, persistence, and knowing how to be gentle with yourself.
I see myself as a multi-faceted communications coach who understands the intersections of content development, production, marketing, promotion, and, most importantly, staying aligned with your essence.
And at the end of each day, what gives me the greatest joy as a wordsmith, storyteller, and guide?
Seeing you embrace the idea of getting over your concerns about writing for yourself and as yourself while doing it for your intended reader — -THAT is what I champion.
What is your opinion of your writing? Curious. :)
Follow me on Twitter @deborahdrake