Grandma O’Brien loved to say, “There’s no sense being Irish if you can’t be thick.” She was right. Maybe that’s why when people say, “I can’t write,” I take it as a challenge to prove them wrong.
Yes, you can write. If you can think and talk, you can write. If you can express yourself in any other medium, you can write. If you can type, operate a pen or a pencil, or string together words and phrases, you can write. But there are two things you might not know to do:
- Trust yourself. If you don’t trust yourself, you won’t write. But that doesn’t mean you can’t write. It only means you haven’t given yourself permission to do it.
- Re-write. There’s no such thing as a perfect first draft — of anything. But that doesn’t mean you can’t write. It only means you don’t trust yourself to commit what you’re thinking to writing. Once you’ve done that, reviewing and editing is no different from changing brush strokes, from chiseling a sculpture, from sanding a piece of wood, burnishing a piece of metal, or otherwise refining an expression of your vision.
“I’m Afraid to Write.”
No, you’re not. You’re afraid of being judged. If you haven’t written before — especially if you think you can’t write — who could blame you? But if you’ve worked artistically or expressively in any other medium, you’ve faced this fear before. And you’ve overcome it. It’s easier the second time. Here’s why:
- Your work in that first medium taught you no one will like everything you do. That’s why boxers say, “Styles make fights.” And its why Grandpa O’Brien loved to say, “That’s what makes horse racing.”
- Your work in that first medium taught you to create for yourself. That’s all the reason you need.
“How Do I Know If It’s Any Good?”
You don’t. There are 7.7 billion people on the planet, give or take. Do you really believe you’re the only one who thinks like you? (Here’s a hint: You’re not.) Regardless of the medium in which you work, you’ll never know if it’s any good until you do it. And you’ll never know if what you’re creating is art. Why? Because it’s not your judgment to make. Create it anyway. It’s the only way you’ll ever find out.
Try this: Trust yourself to write what you think. Write it the way you think it. Read it aloud. Listen to it. Feel it. Refine it as you see fit. It’s yours. Leave the judging to someone else.
There won’t be time to judge it anyway. You’ll be too busy creating.