Do you believe there are limits to our learning?
Do you believe we can reach a point of perfection and no longer need to acquire new information? I don’t. Life is one big long lesson and we are merely the students. When we find something we are good at or enjoy, we throw ourselves into it. Writing is no different, it’s something we are taught but to do it well is a skill.
I like the way I write, I think I always have done, but I haven’t loved it. Sharing my writing with the world has been exciting and scary at the same time. I’ve never claimed to be the best and I don’t think I could, but I wasn’t always open to developing it further. I was happy to stay at my level, not aspiring to do more or be better.
When my naivety led me to my turning point.
I used to write for an online magazine (that has since deleted all my work without notifying me) and I interviewed another creative as part of a campaign I was running. I was relatively new to interviews, but the idea of acting as a journalist was exciting so I arranged to meet this person. Whereas now I’d be inclined to email questions for someone to type and answer, naive me met up with this person and made handwritten notes, which I later typed up.
A horrible moment.
I sent the first draft of this article to the interviewee, so that they could check they were happy with the content. What I received back almost caused me to quit writing for good.
The email was loaded with capital letters in red, detailing the incorrect spelling, grammar and content. She copied the owner of the magazine at the same time, expressing her outrage at all the inaccuracies and errors I had made. And of course they would be there, I had sent her a draft and not even a polished draft, so what she was seeing was the raw version of what it would be. She denied aspects of our conversation that featured in the interview, although my notes were clear, and she responded as though I was attacking her professionalism instead of highlighting the successes of it.
I’ll admit, my confidence was knocked. Even more so than the time someone read my first book (also unpolished) and detailed all the errors in their Amazon review. I was broken inside and seriously doubted my ability to write well. While on reflection, there were some rookie errors made on my part, the interviewee can also be held responsible for the way she responded, as well as the information she shared in the interview (if you don’t want me to write about it, don’t mention it).
I allowed myself to wallow in self-pity for a day or two, contemplating on turning my back on something that gave me life; writing. But a part of me decided to put my emotions aside, to put my ego away and look at the situation from a different point of view. I hadn’t said I was a perfect writer but I had positioned myself in a way that people expected me to be. That position held some responsibility and while I wasn’t there yet, I could definitely put myself on the right track.
So, what did I do? I enrolled on a Creative & Professional Writing degree at a local university and never looked back.
My writing has grown and developed in more ways than one. A friend of mine and I recently discussed the positive impacts of academic study on our personal writing, marvelling at the growth and maturity that is so evident now compared to before.
In fact, academic study in this area has taught me to write with confidence and increased conviction. I’ve steered away from writing for other online platforms in search of stardom and instead have created my own. I have spent more time mulling over writing my next publication, instead of putting out something without a care in the world. I have planned my blog posts so that they are focused, so that they offer value to others while also showcasing my knowledge and passions.
In just over 7 days, I’ll be hosting the monthly 5-Day Writing Challenge in my online writing group. At the end of August, I will be publishing my fifth book and holding a fancy book launch to celebrate it. You, my friend, will be invited. In September I will be entering my third year of university, the final year of my Creative & Professional Writing degree. I can only imagine the magic I will create following the completion of this course. I am also exploring ways I can get my writing out into the world, using social media and collaborative projects to further me in ways I can’t do myself. For much of this year, I will be reading as much as I write, if not more, and reading books on business, empowerment and writing, because that is my main focus at the moment. My mind is a sponge and I intend to fill it with new knowledge and new information, so that I can do better and be better.
And isn’t that the point of life?
That we push ourselves to our potential, that we learn all we can so that we can truly be all that we can be? I’ve never said I’m the best writer in the world but I’d like to be known as one of the greatest. I’d like my work to be studied in schools in 50 years time, and to be quoted at awards ceremonies, and considered valuable and worthy of reading. I’d like my work to be made into films, to warm the coldest of hearts and make the driest of hearts cry. I’d like my work to make someone pick up the phone and call a family member they’ve avoided for 10 years, or to encourage someone suffering in silence to speak up. I write most of this for myself but I am conscious that the message isn’t mine to keep, so I’d like to know that what I’ve written has changed at least one person’s life, even if I’ll never get to know that.
But this doesn’t happen overnight, which is why I am invested in growing and developing. I want to be a writing legend but that will only come with consistency, and with that comes quality.
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