I’ve spent the past 15 years wanting and yearning to be a writer. I’ve thought about it, I’ve written several poems and essays, and it had laid like a gem in my heart for years. Why did it never come to fruition after all these years? My feelings are that something inside of me told me that I was not ready; it was not time. Recently, I had come across a series of unfortunate and traumatic incidents that woke my soul up and had me reaching for my true calling: writing. I quit two of my four part time jobs and was ready to make the big leap. Some people like to “grab a branch before letting one go,” but on one hand I want to “jump” (off the cliff and wait for the parachute to open) as Steve Harvey said in his Youtube motivational video and also there’s another analogy. I heard pirates used to sink their ship when they docked on a shore, therefore they had nowhere to go if the going got tough. They were 100% devoted to their new path regardless of the outcome. That’s what I want to do.
Now, some 3 weeks later I’m still amounting the courage to send out my first resume and cover letter (I still need to revise my writing samples/writing portfolio) and make the big splash. However, there’s more to it then that: how does one become a writer? I mean, I am not the type of child who grew up with a journal and wrote three stories a week and shared them with my friends. I was just normal kid who played basketball and got into martial arts (and later philosophy).
Words did not fall off my pen nor did I have the yearning to spend hours and days in an empty room slaving away on a sheet of paper with endless phrases and plotlines spewing forth from my pen. I’m just a normal guy with some nice thoughts. So how do I mold myself into a writer? Well, here’s my process.
First, I have practiced martial arts for nearly two decades. That serves as a baseline or guide for how to achieve something grand: start from the basics, daily practice, and use of willpower to practice and improve. Next, I had already been writing on a daily computer notepad for the past two years – poems, journal entries, and writing exercises (descriptions, fragments of essays, general thoughts, insights etc.). However, all of that was not consistent nor substantial enough to designate that craft as a profession, living, or a true trade. I was bursting full of ideas and plot lines and did not know the means (nor have the will?) to complete them.
After I made the big jump by quitting my jobs, I knew I had cleared my table for the big jump. I’ve decided to write at least 30 minutes a day (which is a standard chunk of time for practice as my Tai Chi teacher had designated a minimum of 30 minutes a day of standing meditation to us in order to continue improving and seek the most benefits). I’ve also decided to use the website http://www.vocabulary.com
to improve my vocabulary in a fun and dynamic way so I can continue “word smithing.” All seemed to run smoothly the first 2-3 days until I hit the eventual rut: a total lack of motivation to write on certain days or certain parts of days. In fact, after 1-2 weeks there was in general a total lack of motivation to write about 2/3 of the times I had actually wrote! However, I knew willpower was essential in being a writer and also knowing there was no safety net: I don’t have some career to fall back on – I took the leap and this is where I want to be.
Next, two things happened: I started creating more writing exercises that I’ve kept in a list on a Microsoft Notepad file in the past 2 years in order to keep the writing process varied but always fun and challenging that dark cloud that prevents me from writing or wanting to write. I decided to start writing every day when I wake up and before I go to bed and also any time I had a thought or a good idea. I can now see why many famous writers have said that they hated every minute of writing but totally enjoyed completing a work of art; writing is a difficult arduous process and what’s even more difficult is that it’s a self-employed task. You are the employer and employee: you run the hours, you choose how hard and honest you are to work, and you choose how much you want to write and improve each day. There are no external motivators and really there are not a lot of regulations, rules, or set ways of becoming a writer.
This goes back to that line: “If you want to become a writer then write.” Easier said than done. However, before I hit the dark cloud of resistance I also had this rush of joy and excitement in tackling this new craft and the sense of exhilaration in having the chance to jot down all of my ideas and to “create” something. In a way, writing is very much like how I approached Kung Fu when I was a teenager: I never wanted to practice when I made myself practice but I had NEVER regretted practicing after I was finished. Writing is very much in the same vein because honestly I’m pulling ideas and words from nowhere and nothing. I have to generate each sentence and phrase from somewhere and of course there is such a thing as a muse but at the moment: I am NOT inspired, in the mood to write, nor sure of the direction of my path of writing.
Darn, I had completely lost my train of thought. However, becoming a writer has done a few things: helped me to open up my inner world and inspect it more closely, motivated me to read more and watch more documentary programs (continued self-education), and my patience, tolerance, and ability to write for long periods of time is increasing daily. 3 weeks ago, after about 15 minutes of writing my mind was already spent. Right now, I’ve been hamming at this post and another post for almost an hour without slowing down. I’m on a roll (as a fellow boxing forum poster responded when I said he was on a roll: “As a mid afternoon snack, I am best served with horseradish sauce” – sigh, I love puns!). In addition, writing has helped me open up my inner world as I’m trying to write about anything or everything I can think of when I sit down to write. I don’t perform the same writing exercises every day as I just get bored: some days they are poems, other days journal entries, and other times free writing or free association writing (“shoes” and I write anything I can about shoes). These exercises usually take me back to my past and I have a great memory – I am basically reliving my childhood and adolescence constant. Lucky for me, most of my memories are positive ones and I am constantly reveling in the magic in which my parents have provided for me. That I am thankful for – as my young adulthood has been difficult and trying. The memories serve as a springboard for this period of life, yet my young adulthood was not without it’s positive and great moments as well.
Well, this was not a perfect nor organized recap of my trials and attempts at being a writer, but it was something.
Have a great day!!! 😀