In You are a Writer, Jeff Goins explains why you should call yourself a writer. He then explains the area to make sure you’re backing up your words.
I’ve always and still do shy away from titles. There’s still a tiny twinge when I say I’m a designer. I felt it just now. This might have to do with having worked at a fashion company. “Designer” with nothing else in front meant you were designing clothes—which was the core business.
I think I’d all out cringe if I said I’m a writer. But I enjoyed all the guidance on walking the walk. If I’m learning anything in this 100 days, 100 posts project, it’s learning how to finish. Jeff writes about finishing:
Cancel all backup plans, pick a project, and move forward. It doesn’t matter what you pick. Maybe it’s a book, an article, or whatever. Write it. And finish it. Because once you learn how to finish, you’ll be able to start again. You’ll start another great project and finish it. And another. And another.
In the first few weeks of this project, I’d get almost to the end of a post but didn’t want to do the grunt work. With a list of future post ideas, it was easy to start working on the next post. That’s also more fun.
Something else I need to improve on is editing. I knew that from the start of this project, and I still haven’t improved as much as I want here. Jeff talks about the importance of editing:
Let’s face it: The “genius” stuff happens in the editing process. Most successful writers go through a tedious process of drafting and shaping their content to get something worth sharing. How do they do this? They write every day. They write a thousand terrible words to find a hundred words worth using. They share their work with a close friend. They edit, tweak, and then ship. But they have to have something to start the process with. And so do you.
I’m getting pretty good at generating a bunch of raw material. I can get to two crappy pages faster, but they’re still crappy pages. Still, it’s improvement. If I can get the marble at the quarry quicker than I’ll have more chances to practice chipping away at it to make shapes. Eventually I’ll learn to make statues.
One of the important things is getting to the quarry in the first place. Here’s Jeff on creating that raw material:
Commit to writing something—anything—today. Maybe it’s just a sentence or a title. But get it on paper (or screen). Write it just to get it out. Right. Now. You might have a nugget of something that was inspired at 3 a.m. But write free. Keep your fingers moving.
It might feel like a waste, but it works: Write more, so you can edit more. Starting with raw thoughts then slicing down your fluff to the core essentials is how you get to genius.
I’m also practicing showing up. Professionals show up. Not that my aim is to be a professional writer, but if I want to improve then I need to show up. Professionals do it in the open:
They practice in public. They show up, every day, without excuse or complaint (okay, maybe some complaint). They perform. They go to work. They stop stalling and playing around and actually get stuff done. Writing is no different. Look, it’s easy to dump words on a page and tuck it away in a drawer. But to be a real writer, you have to take some risks. You have to put your work out there. Throw it against the wall, and see if it sticks.
I’m getting better at throwing things against the wall every single day. Soon, and slowly, I’ll work on making things stick.