Everyone says to just write more. Just write daily. I keep trying to, but failing. That “neg theory” guy, the writer for Rolling Stone who’s apparently friends with the 4-Hour Workweek guy, says if you don’t like writing every day, or if you just don’t do it, you’re not a writer. I guess I’m not a writer. I’m so sick of talking about being a writer, but not being one in any real sense of the word. We all formulate words. We all produce sentences. We all script emails and send texts and check off to-do lists. Those are the only things I write daily. I can’t even read BuzzFeed anymore, because those people refer to themselves as writers, talk about their love and devotion to it, how it makes them who they are and it’s how they spend their days. And it makes me jealous. Because I could write what they write. So why aren’t I?
I guess I feel like because I have all these thoughts and feelings swirling around inside me, and I don’t know how to say them as prettily as I can write them, I’m a writer. I guess because I used to write thinly veiled autobiographies about teenage girls doing all the things I wished I could do—have friends, be confident, kiss boys—I grew up thinking I was a writer. I guess because I went to school to be a magazine editor and had to write pretend magazine articles and sometimes even real magazine articles, I was a writer.
Now I’m an adult and I write at work, sure. But who doesn’t? A lot of what I write is emails—anyone can do that. Yeah, there are the online ads and the video scripts and occasionally the direct mail campaigns, but do those things make me a writer? Not a good one. I can tell you that, because I don’t write things I want to send to everyone I know, declaring, “Look what I did!” I rarely look them up to see them myself. Maybe a little of that is the fact that what I write isn’t owned by me. I hold the pen, but the company holds my hand. My fingers are guiding the ink, but theirs are deciding when to cross the Ts and dot the Is.
I don’t write the things that are bubbling up inside me, for lots of reasons. But mostly because I’m scared. I’m scared no one will like it, or just as bad, no one will Like it. Without their stamp of approval, what does it matter? What use are the words? And what about those posts that no one outside my mom reads? If a tree in the forest doesn’t make a sound, words on the Internet certainly don’t make an impact.
And I guess that’s just it. That’s the thing I’ve never admitted, and maybe I’ve never known. I want to make a sound. I want people to care. I want them to read and share and talk about my words.
I want to be the kind of writer who makes other people readers.