Wednesday, 6 July 2011

First steps on the writing road

What’s it like to start out as a writer? I often think about this when I facilitate a group taking their first unsteady steps in the craft. They don’t only come with paper and pen but often with uncertainty and little confidence. They believe it’s not right to call themselves a ‘writer’ because they don’t know enough or don’t believe they are ‘good enough’. Most often they believe that only being published allows the word ‘writer’ to be used with their name. I can share with people some of what I know about the craft. I tell them that none of the things they worry about matter but I can’t turn them into writers; they need to choose that for themselves. My small voice is often lost in the clamour of their inner critic. I keep telling them—keep your pen to the paper, your fingers on the keyboard. Tell the critic to shut up! Keep going. Slowly I see the changes. People become bolder at having a go; more willing to share their work publically. I'm coming to the end of another group who have worked through some of these issues and are producing good work in just a few weeks. I'm grateful to them because they remind me of what it was like when I first started. I learn just as much from them as they do from me. I always come away feeling humble and privileged. One day I’m sure I’ll see names I recognise from these early days on the spines of books. Be brave.