The Secret to Writing

For hours I read the descriptions for writing classes. I look at UCLA Extension classes. I look at Gotham Writing Workshop. I look at the offerings of the non-profit writing organization in my city. I spend hours searching for online writing classes and writing groups in my area. I attend as many writing workshops as I can afford. I am searching. I am looking for discipline. I am looking for a magic pill or bullet that will keep me in my chair every day writing essays, prose poems, blog posts, articles. There must be a trick to being productive. It doesn’t help that on Facebook I am friends with a wide network of writers. Those writers report their daily word count: 2500, 3000, sometimes more. I feel inadequate. I feel like a failure. I hire a writing coach.

I have to accept that I am looking for shortcuts. I am looking for a guru with the answers to being a writer, but no such guru exists. The only true guru would tell me this one word, “write.” That’s it. I realize today as I am typing this that my problem is not that I need one more class, another critique, the input of one more teacher, assignments, encouragement, one more syllabus, or to participate in another workshop.

I need to sit down and do the work. I need to open a document and begin to type. I have been looking for something magical or mystical, some easy way out. There is no easy way out. It is just me, my thoughts, my hopes, my dreams, my words on a page that I either send into the world, or I don’t.

The time of reckoning is here: I either want to be a writer or I don’t. I either take this lonely step, or I give it up altogether. I think of all the money I have spent on advice. I think of all the time I have spent in classes. I think of how I was searching for someone to do the work for me. It doesn’t work that way. I need the determination. I need the motivation. I need to sit down and get down to business, the business of putting words on a page.

I have always believed that everyone has a book inside of them. I frequently meet people who tell me they are going to write theirs. I wish them well, I do, but this business of putting ideas on the page every day is not for everyone. It is both a pleasure and hard work. The words don’t always flow. The ideas don’t always make sense when you try to type them out. Not every piece is artistic or amazing.

I lost the ability to write for many years because I couldn’t focus while on my medication. I never want to lose that ability again. I don’t take this gift of time and the gift of desire for granted, but I have been looking for shortcuts and the path that has already been cleared for a few years now. It’s time to take out my machete, and start hacking away at the obstacles. No one can do it for me. I’m out in the jungle and the options are, move forward or stand still and perish without water.

I sat in my chair today, and I wrote. I wrote these words. I cleared the path a little bit. I took a step forward. Tomorrow, I hope I can make a little more progress, and after that, a few steps into the jungle each day.

It is work this writing, and although it is the best life I can imagine, I need to stop searching. If you want to write a book or make a living as a writer, you can pack your bags and begin to search for the best way to do that. But when you return home, you will find your computer waiting, and if you are lucky, there will be a sticky note on it that says that one word, “write.” And you will discover that you already had everything you needed before you left on your journey. That’s it. That’s all there is to it, “write.”

It’s so much harder than it sounds, you’ll break a sweat again and again, but that’s the secret, and it’s up to you to somehow find a way to turn it into magic one word at a time.

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