Yes, I know. This first piece of advice may seem completely unprofound but I promise you, this isn’t just a bland statement.
When you first start out, you’ll have every reason to doubt yourself and question whether your voice is even worth exploring. You’ll torture yourself over a sentence. You’ll revise entire pages twenty times over. Hell, you’ll do full re-writes because you will be so unhappy with your work. Call it what you will — writer’s block or crippling self-doubt — these aren’t justifications to keep you from writing. Because here’s the ridiculously simple truth that’s much much worse than a bout of literary constipation:
You will never be a writer without writing.
Hell of a no-boom bomb drop, right? But it needs to be said because so many people need reminding from time to time. Even yours truly!
After a decade of stuffy, tightly-controlled writing for other people (think government), I was still in that headspace where any smidgen of personality could reflect poorly on the writing — and therefore me. I wrote stiffly. I was risk-adverse. I lacked my own voice, and needless to say, it wasn’t effective writing — for any audience.
But the more I wrote, the more comfortable and creative I became. And only then did I find a wonderful flow and tone that actually spoke true of my personality. And with more writing, it became all the more natural to know just how much of my tone and style could be injected in writing to different audiences. I became a confident writer — more importantly — a confident, diverse writer. This process will happen to you too, so long as you heed to this number one advice.
Contrary to what Anthony Bourdain believes. Do it even if you think you suck. No one but yourself is critiquing your writing at this point (we’ll get to publishing later).
Make no mistake, writing is a craft. Yes, you may be blessed with an innate way with words, but don’t let that natural ability fool you into complacency. Like every craft, you must practice and nurture it for you to garner any kind of prowess.
So whether it’s for a community newsletter, a blog post, or as simple as scribbling ideas in a notebook; keep writing. And do it everyday.
Because that’s the only way you’ll find your authenticity. And that’s what everyone actually wants to read.