Subject for today—writing, and especially starting to write. I’ve met a lot of people who want to write. But, they claim, they don’t know how to start. They seem to be waiting for someone to tell them how this is done. I suppose there are as many ways to write as there are people. There’s no one way that is right and each person must find his own way. But if you feel you must write, then there is only one thing to do and that is to write. Write about what? Anything. If you can’t find anything to write about, then write about not being able to find anything to write about. After a while you will think of something and all the time you’ve spent writing about not being able to think of anything to write about will help you to put some words down on paper.
Many years ago I wanted to write. I was about fourteen when I had a chance to do that. I was told about a poetry contest for teenagers and I thought I would enter it. I made a number of starts at writing a poem. I wanted it to be a beautiful, profound piece of literature. None of the starts I made measured up to that in my estimation. And I feared what others might think of my poor efforts. I never did enter that contest. And I didn’t write again until many years later. As a result, I denied myself years of pleasure at an art that I have come to love.
In my life I have come in contact with many people who are very good at one thing or another but the people I have come to admire most are those that are willing to keep at something they really want to do. They don’t give up. Putting that in terms of writing, there is a quote by Richard Bach, author of Jonathan Livingston Seagull, that, in my estimation, says it beautifully: “A professional writer is an amateur who didn’t quit.”
I believe that in every person there is a need to create. That need to create can take many forms: inventing; writing or one of the other arts; designing any number of things; cooking. To deny that need is denying a part of oneself. That is a very dangerous and unproductive thing to do. But if you do try to write, don’t make the mistakes I did. Don’t set standards for yourself that are too high, don’t worry overly much about what you fear others may think, and once you start, keep at it.
But over and above anything else, if you want to try writing, by all means try it. You may like it. It may like you.