Welcome to Writeratops! I’m Mollie E. Reeder.
This is the inaugural post, the metaphorical smashing of the bottle on the bow. I am so excited you found yourself here – we’re going to have a great time.
If you made your way here because you were out in the murky depths of the Internet, looking for advice or inspiration, trying desperately to figure out how to get the things that are in your head out of your head – then we’re probably a lot alike. Maya Angelou said there is “no agony greater than bearing an untold story”, and don’t you know it – when a good idea wriggles itself down into your belly like some kind of parasite from an alien movie, bites you hard and refuses to leave.
But then you sit down at your keyboard (or pick up your pen, if you’re one of those people that likes hand cramps) and … nothing. Or, even worse – something awful.
When you’re standing in line at the checkout, or taking a shower, or trying to go to sleep, and words are dancing around in your half-conscious brain, you’re F. Scott Fitzgerald reincarnate. But when you actually try to write? You feel like a monkey banging on a toy keyboard.
You swear. You cry. You might even delete everything you’ve already written (I see you there, person who’s thinking about doing that. Don’t.) You fall into deep depression and self-hatred. You don’t dare tell anyone about any of your ideas because you know for a fact how terrible of a writer you are.
Writing is learning a new language (even if you are writing in your first language… and time spent in online writing groups has taught me a lot of you are actually trying to write in a second language!). Writing is learning to walk, stumbling every two steps and smacking your face. Writing is groping along in the mud with your fingers looking for flecks of gold.
It’s hard. I’m going to write more in coming weeks about just how hard being creative is, and why it’s cathartic to understand and accept that.
Ira Glass said some wonderful things about art which I will paraphrase here: creative people are creatives because they were born with taste. If you want to be a writer or a filmmaker, it’s probably because you have a taste for good stories. But creative people aren’t born with skill. Skill is something you must develop and refine. This disparity between your good taste and your developing skillset is why you’re tempted to hate yourself.
Together, here at Writeratops, we’re going to sharpen those skills – and refine your sense of taste. Some posts are going to focus on developing you emotionally and philosophically – your sense of identity as a writer, your courage and your artistic ethics. Most posts will give you practical, hands-on techniques to tackle your ideas head on.
So calm down. Go pick up the stuff you threw around the room. Apologize to your kids (or your cats) for swearing in front of them. Blow your nose. Take all of your poorly written pages out of the recycle bin. And ask yourself why.
Why do you want to write? What was it about that great idea that bit you so hard? Why is any of the frustration, the labor and rejection worth it? Slow down. Think that one through. If it’s gonna be hard, then you’re gonna need to know why it’s worth it. And nobody can answer that but you.