Writers in the Storm

A blog about writing

storm moving across a field
August 23, 2010

Writing Naked

D A Watt 

I recently came back from making my three day Cursillo, meaning a “little course” for my faith. The first talk I attended, called a rollo, centered around the ideal self.  You see, each of us is composed of two ideals, the false ideal and the true ideal. The false ideal is the dress up doll version complete with makeup, boobs and Botox, while the true ideal is the cottony comfortable au la natural you.

 The toughest part of figuring out your true ideal is being honest with yourself. No false ego, no puffed up pride can answer the question, “Who am I, really?” If you really want a long and fulfilling career in anything, including writing, you must answer the question truthfully, and take whatever time it takes to figure out YOU.

So, ask yourself, “Who am I, really?”

The answer to this most simple of questions requires a not so simple response. The old saying “To thine ownself be true” applies here. Respect your DNA, and your history and your environment. For instance, do you prefer sitting over walking, reading over physical activity? Silly, I know, but if you have a hard time parking your butt in a chair (like me) or standing at a podium with your laptop (like me) for more than a few hours, and if, after two days of working alone without a social break, you are beginning to feel mildly depressed (like me), maybe you had better respect your makeup, and I don’t mean lip gloss.

How motivated a writer are you, really? Would you rather a bike ride than to finish researching the effects of gamma radiation or police procedurals or pipe bombs? And what type of writing suits you best? Be honest, are you better suited for short stories or long novels? Are you adventurous and easily bored or are you meticulous, highly organized, and able to sit for long periods with only a ten minute break every hour? Admit it, maybe you are not suited for novels, the marathon of writing, maybe an anthology, young adult, or composing children’s stories is your niche. Maybe your writing is more of a sprint or triathlon. You might be better suited for short stories, blogs, essays, articles, and such, where you can cut to the quick and move on to the next exciting gig. Admit it. Who are you, really?

If you are able to plant butt in chair and stay there, I envy you, I really do. I would love to write for five hours a day, everyday (forget eight hours that would be torture), but I can’t, I really can’t. I am very physical, very active and easily distracted. So, with that revelation (finally, I feel like I just admitted to alcoholism) am I a writer? Well, yes, but what kind of writer?

I don’t know, yet.

The false me is inflated, competent, and very confident. My false ideal can leap tall buildings in a single bound, swim the English Channel, and win the Kentucky Derby, not to mention write like Steinbeck. Of course, in actuality, I am not that person, but sometimes my gullibility buys into the snake oil self, and I believe. Oh, how I believe. That’s when frustration over my apparent lack of ability and chutzpah closes in. I neglect my writing, and Eminem’s, “Snap back to reality, Oh, there goes gravity,” becomes my swan song.

Sure, I like to think of myself as the next great thriller writer, my false ideal thinks so. But do I have the motivation to travel that road of incredible research? Do I possess the ability and intelligence required to create intricate, complex, and believable plots? Am I truly capable of writing and selling thrillers? I’d like to think so, but  . . ..

Will the writer inside of me please shout it out? Tell me, what kind of writer am I?

Alas, she remains silent; I think she’s afraid, maybe she knows I am not ready for her honesty. So, I plod along, slowly figuring me out, uncovering the layers of ego to face the true writer within. I am trying for full frontal nudity here, without denial or delusion. I just hope that when I uncover her, flawed and spider veined, she writes.

So, gentle reader, respect who you are, and figure out what motivates you. And when the writer within comes out, let me know who she is. I’ll be looking for her in the bookstores, news stands and online

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