Is a writer born or built, is it innate or does it take years of practice, a skill you need to hone?
I’ve been traveling around Japan for the last two months talking to people traveling from all over the world. And 9 times out of 10, when I introduce myself as a writer I’m told a story, something they wanted to write, a scene floating in their head, or the story of a tried and failed draft.
Writers are seen as their own species a lot of times, being able to craft prose and plots out of thin air, trapping themselves away often in mystery or finding inspiration in the strangest places.
Today I want to talk to you about how I became a writer, what being a writer feels like, and how a writer is made.
August 2013, Costa Rica, in the middle of a typhoon. My parents and I are in a small restaurant with the glowing orange light of a dancing fire, the soft chatter in Espanol, and the absolute pouring rain outside. There’s soft jazz coming from a musician off to one side and the sweet seats of my parents coffee is in the air as I wait for our dinner to be delivered, It’s only 4:00 pm but dark enough it could have been midnight on a moonless night. We’d just come inside after the rain pelting down on our umbrellas, my shoes are completely soaked through. This is the first time I remember truly being in the moment, not thinking about anything else in the world, just observing. I call it bliss.
My mom tells me that this would be a great setting for a murder mystery. At first, I tell her ‘no’ but by that evening I’d put down 1,000 words on the first novel I’d ever write to completion.
I’d always been a stay teller and had been writing before I could even read. Being dyslexic, I had no idea how to spell but I had a story to tell. My very first story was written entirely in camera angels. The next one was color-coded so I knew who was speaking. The main character was yellow, the mom green, the supporting cast all the colors of the rainbow, I’d never read enough of a book to put in quotes, he said she said, or pharagrahs. But I never considered myself a writer until that day in Costa Rica, until I write the last line of that book, until edited it 11 times, until I wrote the end on my second novel, really, I don’t know when I started saying I was a writer…
All kids are creative, unafraid to draw in whatever they want in whatever colors, tell stories, sing songs, but over time these things are rather replaced by other interests or driven out by resentful parents. Yes, I’ve always been a writer but it was the fact that I never stopped writing that makes me a novelist today. I never would have gotten this far if it weren’t for my supportive parents or for my best friend Tyne who has encouraged me for the last 10 years to keep writing and keep getting better at it.
On the other hand, many people become writers later in life. Actually the time I spent at the keyboard is actually only a fraction of the actual writing I do. A writer is working when they stare out the window. When there zoning off, looking at a tiny pool of water or grass grown up around a pole. It’s about seeing the world in a different way from the average Joe and then finding the words to share it with the rest of the world. Being a writer just means carving out the time to sit down at the keyboard and pluck out ideas from the air. No story is written solo by thinking about it.
Like any other job being a good writer means having a passion for it but there is so much more than just that. You have to be excited by ideas, love learning and gathering informathin, love seeing yourself improve over time, read. Read a lot and learn from it.
And then there’s being a successful writer, a professional writer, a jack of all trades where you are supposed to magically be able to run 30 different social media accounts, create new content daily and otherwise build a following all on you own while still trying to find the time and motivation to write and occasionally eat.
Being a writer means soul searching, knowing what’s important to you and prioritizing it. Finding what makes you unique and sharing it with the world.
I am a man of many masks. I wear a different mask one for every person, for every situation, for every place. I hate being at a job for more than 3 months, being in a city for more than four years and find it so, so difficult to maintain friendships. A writer is the body of a person with a thousand people inside of them as well as a spark of magic and a thousand words that are so different from our own. I find it really hard to balance the scales of putting out content, writing, and having a social life. I’m trying every day to better myself my writer, and my content so I can make new things that not only help people but open them up to new worlds.
I hope you stick with me as I continue to change the type of posts I make, the thing I post on Instagram and the books I write. I’d be very grateful for any feedback you can give me as to what I’m doing well or what you’d like to see more of.
But if you’re someone who is thinking about becoming a writer or someone who already is a writer, I implore you to go out into the world today and really look at it, truly see it and appreciate it in your own unique way, then as the sun sets or the rain starts to fall, sit down infant of the keyboard and write unedited, writer your truth, your passions, and create your own world.