Some of you will know from earlier Posts that, many years ago, I decided to get myself certified with the Coaching Association Of Canada as a running coach, and then volunteered as long distance coach with a local track club for almost 10 years. Our specialty was road races 5km to Marathon, and so attracted a very broad age range.
Newcomers to the group would often trigger a conversation like this:
“I want to be a runner?”
“Okay … what background of running do you have”
” Oh I’ve been running regularly from home”
“Then I would suggest that you are already a runner”
“No but I want to be a real runner!”
“If you are already running, then you are already a real runner!”
“But I’m not good enough!”
A revelation! It was interesting that to become “real” it was perceived that one had to be at some pre-determined level of ability!
I have known a number of people over the years who are very competent with a musical instrument, but do not think of themselves as musicians.
I continually run into a similar rationale here with Blogging. I have read many Posts where the author wants to be a writer… but they already are! I have read about people with a book or two published who do not consider themselves authors.
Where do we get the idea from that there are standards which have to be achieved before one can call oneself a writer, author, runner, musician etc.? I have no professional expertise to provide an answer, but it does seem to me that self esteem is a factor.
I have one book published. From my perspective, I am therefore an author. I may not be a good author. I may not be a well known author, but I am still an author! If I had been in this situation many years ago, I would have probably kept very quiet about the “author thing”… but why? In my case, because there would be a possibility of negative responses, some perhaps veiled by humor. Some as a result of ignorance. I would not have wanted to hear.
“One book doesn’t make you an author!”
“How many books have you sold then?” (snicker)
“Writing 1000 word blogs doesn’t make you a real writer/author”
When we are venturing into an area of expertise that is new to us, it is important to receive support and encouragement (ref. yesterday’s Post). It therefore becomes a “safety net” to minimize our ability and therefore minimize the chances of negativity. At my current age (an indisputable senior citizen), I really don’t care what other people think. My most important critic is myself, and if I am happy with my level of achievement, that is all that is important.
All of you “wannabe” writers are already there, based on what I am reading. Some of you are very easy to read, and some I have to stop and perhaps re-read in order to grasp where you are going. I have no qualifications as a literary critic so cannot legitimately critique your writings however, I can offer some personal observations based on my own experience.
One of the nicest comments I received when circulating my book draft for reviews, was that it was written honestly, and my personality came through in the writings very clearly.
Similarly, I have been following a particular blog for quite sometime now and the writings were always interesting however, a recent Post was just”bleeding” emotions and personality. I commented accordingly because it was such a wonderful change in style. I found out later that it had been written during a time when the writer was going through a very emotional period as a result of some bad news. That could have been the first time that the writer had not mechanically constructed a Post, but rather wrote from the heart. What a wonderfully honest piece of writing resulted!
My suggestion to all of you novice writers, based on my experiences and these examples, is to be yourself in your writings. Trying to mimic well known writers, or constructing around some predetermined format, provides minimal sense of personal achievement. Readers not only want to understand what you are writing, but (perhaps not consciously) also want to know who you are. Write honestly and your personality will show through.
So are you all writers? Really?
If I am following your Blogs then, from my perspective, you are all writers. Celebrate your obvious ability to put your thoughts “out there” for public scrutiny. You may not be particularly good writers and you may not be well known writers but you are still writers and, as with running or playing a musical instrument, just practice… practice… practice! Write… write… write! If there really is some mystical achievement standard out there, you will reach it one day!