Most of us writers are professional whiners. We know how to complain with colorful, compelling alliteration and perfect grammar.
And, truly, we have so much to complain about—low pay, minimal recognition for ridiculous amounts of work, a swamped market, the Big 5 monopoly that rigs the system and controls the best-seller lists. And then there’s the social media grind, endless platform building, the odds, the hours of harvesting the dregs of your heart, only to be dismissed because that genre’s not selling. Thankless work, really.
And whose skin doesn’t crawl when they hear the phrase, “Anybody can get published nowadays.” I read a well-written complaint recently wherein a professional writer said something to the effect of –
Whenever I meet new people and say I’m an author, almost every one of them will say, “Oh, I plan to write a book when I retire,” as if the only reason they haven’t is that they’re too busy doing more important things to get to it right now. The writer went on to say, no one meets a brain surgeon at a party and says, “Oh, I plan to be a brain surgeon when I retire.”
I chuckled and recognized those thoughts, but at the same time when I meet people and they say they’d like to write a book someday, I’m intrigued.
What will they write about?
I feel each one is a kindred spirit. I don’t doubt that they’ll write a book, even though I know too well the work that goes into writing one.
Here’s my honest take on the writer’s gripe – Sure, anyone can write a book (or be a brain surgeon), but not everyone can write a good book (or be a good brain surgeon).
I wouldn’t for one second begrudge anyone’s writing dreams. But more than that, I believe everyone should write.
Writing is good for your soul, whether you plan to be a Pulitzer prize winning novelist or you just scratch out a to-do list for the weekend. Putting thoughts together coherently on a page requires that we stop for a moment and consider what we think, feel, want, or believe. It forces us to spell it out, name it, own it.
It helps us to put words to our needs and desires, our joy and pain. The act of writing it down, gives us clarity and sometimes—a sense of control. It forces us to recognize our feelings. And that, my friends, is always a good thing.
Maybe if more people wrote on a daily basis, their lives wouldn’t get stopped up with frustration, fury, sadness, or confusion. Maybe we’d all be a little more grateful because we’d see it there in black and white – our own blessings.
Maybe we’d discover the inspiration to chase a dream or at least re-design our garden or paint the bathroom.
Or maybe we’d find ideas buried in our own hearts. Ideas we’d forgotten about in the full and increasingly demanding lives we lead. Ideas brewing there under all that clutter clattering around our minds.
Yes, professional writing is hardwork, and it is less and less profitable, but writing—in any form—is powerful and life changing and yes, anybody can do it.
(Plus, I think it would benefit those around you much more than taking up amateur brain surgery.)
Thanks for reading.
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