Real Writers Get With The Program

It would be very cool to be a real writer. I experience the creations of people who are and I usually can’t get enough. Once I get started, I can’t quit. They draw me in and there is no letting go until they turn me loose, satisfied and wondering how they do it. It’s amazing.

I suspect it’s a little like singing. I don’t know anyone who can’t sing. Even I can sing. The difference is somewhere between singing and being a real singer. There is a point in there where it isn’t just singing anymore. It’s music.

That’s the way it is with writing. It somehow moves past writing and becomes a novel or a poem or an article. It’s alive and out there, full of energy and meaning. It tugs at your heart. It causes a shiver down your back. It gets you to thinking thoughts you’ve never thought before. It makes you smile. It makes you frown. It gets you up–and–moving. It’s alive and has inserted itself into your world without so much as a please or thank you.

I certainly don’t want to mislead you. You may be getting the impression that I’ve merely been sitting around hoping and wishing. Nope. I’ve been hard at it. Well, maybe not as hard at it as a real writer but I’ve been clicking those computer keys for many years.

It’s not like I get up every morning and chain myself to the keyboard until I’ve produced a thousand words or even a dozen words. I am more of a potato chip kind of guy. That’s someone who nibbles now and then and occasionally stuffs down half a bag. In a good week, a lot of words flow into the computer and out of the printer but most weeks it’s not worth mentioning.

Real writers are dedicated to their craft. They are self–disciplined. They write an article a week or maybe one every day. They write a book a year and maybe two or three. I’m very serious when I tell you that I think that would be very cool.

It would be at least as cool as being a real singer or a real artist or a real whatever. There are those special people who are world–class at what they do. Writers are among my favorite examples of such perfection.

I have spent a lot of time and energy over the years practicing writing. I was told when I was young that practice makes perfect so I keep practicing. I keep working at it. I write and read and then I try it the other way around, I read and write.

Okay. You got me there. It’s the potato chip thing. I likely don’t write and read with enough self–discipline and consistent attention to the task at hand. I just keep on nibbling and occasionally wolfing down half a bag when I can’t resist the urge. I need to get with the program, equal amounts of writing and reading, every day. That’s the minimum commitment required to be a real writer.

What do you think? Is there any hope for those of us who can’t get with the program and if we do get with it for a while, we backslide? I got to thinking about this today when I was supposed to be writing or reading or doing something else that confirms how productive and self–disciplined I am. It’s not that I spend all of my time pondering these types of important questions. I do write now and then, between important thoughts and whatever else I find to do to avoid becoming a real writer. It’s just that I can’t quite find the key to the perfection they told me that practice would unlock.

What will it take to become a real writer? I don’t know yet but I keep thinking about it. As I pondered that today, I figured out that I have made it up to a million published words and still don’t know what it takes to be a real writer. Yep, that’s about a hundred articles and columns, a dozen or so books for adults and three for children, and even a few training manuals.

I write better today than I did when I started, way back then, a million words ago. Maybe by the time I get another million words on down this writing road, I’ll figure it out. Now that would be very very cool. Perhaps you will decide to join me in my journey. We can write a little, read a little, and maybe even stop to munch on a bag of chips as we think those important thoughts that are so interesting when we don’t quite find the self–discipline to get with the program.