I signed up for a Creative Writing Essentials adult education class at StoryStudio Chicago. I’ve always been a voracious reader but wanted to learn more about the craft of writing. A friend asked, “Do you think you’ll make any money publishing your work? Writing is easy. Publishing is not.”
He was off the mark on both counts. First, writing, or learning a new craft (or hobby, sport, or professional skill) is often not easy. Being awkward or simply not good at something is uncomfortable, especially when we pride ourselves on being experts in one area and competent across the board.
Stepping into unfamiliar terrain and falling short (or flat on our faces) over and over again requires taking ourselves less seriously and being curious. As I listen to other writing students read their work out loud, I ask myself, “Wow, how did they get me to care so much about that character?” instead of comparing my writing to theirs.
The second way he misunderstood my intention was to link trying something new to a lofty goal, in this case, to making money! For me, tinkering with imaginary characters and potential plot lines is pure enjoyment. For others, what gives you joy might be picking up a guitar or knitting needles or golf clubs. These activities offer a break from our responsibilities at work and at home. That’s not to say improvement won’t come by the time we knit our 20th pair of socks. Or that you might get a hole in one without intending to. Mastery might be a byproduct of the fun, but not the goal.
Here’s a challenge. Try something new, purely for pleasure. Choose something that fits into your life and is relatively easy to begin. Carve out a small window of time (maybe get up an hour earlier Saturday morning or spend less time watching TV or on Twitter this week). Don’t overthink it.
Have fun! Let me know how it goes.