There’s something of a pattern of reluctance towards putting any “labels” on myself…. I don’t call myself a runner (even though I’ve run ridiculous distances). And I certainly don’t call myself a writer (even though I have this on-again-off-again blog). Somehow I am more comfortable with calling myself a “person who runs” or a “person who writes.”
This slight technical difference in words makes me feel less defined by the action, or less committed to the image of the label. Somehow I’ve managed to concoct some specific view of what I think a good writer should be. I don’t write like ___, whose authentic and transparent voice I admire. I’m not sarcastic and smart in my writing like ____. I won’t get you rolling on the floor laughing like ____. I’m not even a grammar geek or grammar nazi. My vocabulary feels too simple. I’m not a strong reader, so how could I be a good writer? I mean, who goes and gets a Bachelors in Communication, deliberately avoiding taking a single English class?
To declare I am a writer feels like too much accountability to let anyone outside my own head hear it. In the world of my head, I am safe and content to simply dream up ideas, but never really act on them. I remember talking with some close friends about some ideas I was excited to explore. Several months later, I ran into one of them shopping at a craft show. As we caught up, she asked, “So, how’s it going with getting _____ going?” Oops, did I share that idea out loud? Can I take it back?
Recently I was doing an online quiz where you had to choose the best word out of each set of four words that best describes you. There was a defining parameter – to choose your answer based on what you were like as a child. It actually tripped me up a little because in a lot of ways I have changed. But I think what they were getting at was the idea that we are often our most natural selves in childhood, with the least inhibitions and piles of fears or hurt that inevitably accumulate as we grow into adults navigating our way through life in the world.
It got me thinking about the intense, unfiltered, fearless little girl I used to be. This writing challenge reminded me that I used to create illustrated story books when I was about 8. I wrote a simple story line, and I even drew some pictures (though I still claim I can’t draw to save my life now).
This post is my effort in taking up Jeff Goin’s Day 1 of Great Habits of Writers Challenge.