You can’t steer a parked car.
I can’t tell you the number of people who have confessed to me, “I’ve had a story in my head for years.” From there the comments go different directions. Some say, “I should really write that thing someday.” Others, “I wish I could write but I’m no writer.” In each instance I offer words of encouragement and the all too common phrase, “You can do it.” Then as I sat in the orthodontist office waiting for my middle child to get a broken bracket glued back on, an epiphany hit me – not everyone can write. And I had to ask myself honestly, “Have I been lying to people, merely placating them with motivational drivel?”
To answer this question, I had to consider the definition of the word ‘write’ used in this context. It has nothing to do with penmanship, or even grammar, but has everything to do with the creative process. Can anyone write a story that people will want to read?
Back in the Jordan days, I used to think I was a major basketball fan. When he left the game I suddenly realized I didn’t have the old draw to the NBA finals like I used to. But it opened my eyes a bit to the true game of basketball. Some are gifted and some just put in a whole lot of dedicated hard work. Larry Bird for instance – now, I admit, he does have talent. I’m not diss’n Bird! Love him! But Larry had a dedication to the game that blasted the more ‘naturally gifted’ out of the water. He would practice free throws, studying; improving. He would show up hours before a game and start dribbling the ball and practicing. Did Jordan do this? Well, I don’t know – but he was sort of a freak of nature (I say this in the kindest and most positive way, Mike!). You may not agree with me on how I see the BB greats, but just follow me to my point, which is: Both were astounding on the BB court! However, both were vastly different in their approach.
If you have a story in your mind that you’ve wondered if you can write, let me answer this way. Anyone can write a story someone else will read IF they write the story. But here’s the critical part: I don’t mean just typing words on page. Groom the story, learn how a story is put together, develop the characters, etc. Don’t just write. WRITE! You can’t make a story amazing if you don’t start typing, just like you can’t steer a parked car.
I can sit in a Hummer but if I don’t have keys I’m just warming a seat. I can ponder a scene or a character all day, but if I don’t turn the keys on my story I’m going nowhere.
Bottom line: If you want to write your story, you can but you must start typing! In the beginning it is seriously that easy. Those who can’t write are simply those who don’t really want to. Don’t believe me? Stick around. I’ll show you how to find your keys. If you don’t start, you can’t finish. Secondly, like anything you’ll need to put some effort behind it if you want it to succeed. If it isn’t worth your time to make great, it isn’t worth someone else’s time to read. Do you struggle with grammar? That’s just a Goliath waiting for a David to crush it. Can’t organize your thoughts? Just another Goliath. Whatever obstacle you’re facing, I’m here for you! That’s what Literary Clay is all about. Please don’t let your story die at the feet of the nay saying Goliath! At least give it a shot.
Incidentally, November is a great time to try. It is National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo. Google it. Join it. Make it happen! Whether you can or can’t write is yours to decide by your own actions.
Stay tuned for more tips on how you can make your story happen.