I Am a Writer

Two days ago, I’d have never typed that title line.

Even today, my fingers fumbled over those keys in that order.

Blame it on Jeff Goins.

He’s stirring my feathers and ruffling my pot.  As my friend Dean winkingly accuses me, “Well, now you’re just meddling!”

Jeff Goins is meddling.

It began with an innocent enough tweet advertising an online series about writing.  There wasn’t any cost, and it only ran fifteen days.  Because my wife and I just had our third child, run an approved home, and pastor a church, I was looking for something to do with the two unclaimed minutes every day.  This seemed to fit.

And it fit quite comfortably.  Until Day 1.

Declaration: That was the opening day’s key concept.  In a sentence, this day was a dare:

The journey of every writer begins with a declaration. If you have written, then you are already a writer. Now you just need to keep writing. To overcome the demons of insecurity and create.

So here’s what I want you to do today: Declare you’re a writer.

And that was the beginning of the end.

He pushed us to speak to a friend, someone who’s opinion really matters to us.  Sitting conveniently by myself at that moment, I timidly typed into my iPhone:

Note to self: I am a writer.

Why the struggle to pump out those twenty-eight keystrokes?   Answering will require five more:

Fear.

It’s exceedingly easier to speak hypothetically, something like comedian Dylan Moran (see him HERE) says about potential:

“People always speak about releasing their potential. Don’t do it! Stay away from your potential. You’ll mess it up, it’s potential, leave it alone. Anyway, it’s like your bank balance – you always have a lot less than you think.”

My long-time dream of being a writer is much safer couched in fuzziness.

Left on my bucket list, it hides deep enough down to be invisible.  Described as a hope, it remains a next-door neighbour to “winning the lottery”.  Relegated to the realm of un-expression, a cloak of protection hangs over me.

No one will roll their eyes at me.  No critique is necessary.  After all, my reference to writing wasn’t “really serious”.  It wasn’t a “dream”, the type you bind yourself to while burning your ships with Cortez.

It was a casual desire… just something that I might have wanted… if it ever worked out… and I ever got a shot… and a genie popped out of a lamp at a garage sale.

Except that isn’t how it feels.

And that is what can change in the moment of declaration.

To push words through my larynx or form black text on white screen: These are reality-forming acts.  They involve a boldness, even a brazenness, an attitude that rattles the bars of the cell just long enough to realize that the keys controlling your freedom are on your ring.

Jeff Goins, you crafty critter!  You’re prepping speech for my tongue that my skills with syntax have never dreamed of drafting.

Yes, I WANT to be a writer.  Of course, I HOPE to be a writer.  These feelings are mine, but they are sufficiently weak, held in check to keep me from danger or disappointment.  They are also strong enough to keep me rooted right here.

But today, where I am, I’ve been dared.  Beyond dared, I’ve been compelled to believe that declaration is dynamite: It shakes foundations and scatters pieces to faraway, never-thought-I-could-go-there shores.

So I declare, as part of my homework (dutiful fellow I am) and part of my hope (daring in small steps I am), that I am a writer.

Sigh.

And one more: Sigh.

Dry gulp.

Slight smile.

Now I intend to act like it.

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23 thoughts on “I Am a Writer

  1. Awesome! Glad you found some inspiration from Jeff. I know I have! I intended to follow along with this 15 day thing but got distracted and forgot! These times are busy and coherent thoughts are few and far between!

    • Thanks Chelsey. Yeah, it’s been well worth my while thus far. Starting while I was off for two weeks of “new baby time” wasn’t prime, but I’m glad to be giving it enough attention to benefit. It appears that Jeff is also in that phase of life, even as he leads us.

  2. They’re powerful words, aren’t they? I still stumble over them. I am constantly amazed that people read and love my novels. I was stunned that I filled a room at a writers’ conference last month, and people gushed that they’d learned something.

    I mentioned to someone a couple years ago, when my book was signed how amazed I was, and an old friend, whose opinion mattered, wrote “You’re a writer. You’ve always been a writer.” It stunned me to think that in someone else’s mind, that was already part of my destiny, while I’d been thinking, “Someday…”

    Yup. Very powerful words. “I am a writer.”

    • Thanks Shawn. It’s great to hear from you.

      Similar to your words, I was quite encouraged by some of the comments left after Jeff’s Day 1 post. A number of them were posted by published writers, even some that a fellow like me would feel inclined to look WAY up to. There’s an odd encouragement found in knowing that the feelings of insecurity and doubt–trying to fit into a garment too large–never quite vanish. Based on the fact that I locate encouragement in that fact, it may be just ME that’s odd!

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  5. Enjoyed this! My favorite line is: “You’re prepping speech for my tongue that my skills with syntax have never dreamed of drafting.” Yes, that Jeff is a crafty critter. No one has ever been able to make me get up early if I didn’t have to. I can’t believe how I almost sprung out of bed this morning. That may be a slight exaggeration, but the point is I got up. Anyway, best wishes on the rest of the Challenge!

    • Christina, I said to my wife a while back that there are all sorts of things I wouldn’t find motivation to interrupt sleep for. But writing is different. That in itself must say SOMETHING! Keep pressing on through the challenge, and thanks for the encouragement.

  6. You know what’s so ironic? I read this post by you and I think, “Wow…this guy is a really good writer.” And of course my next thought is, “God, I’m not nearly as good of a writer as he is!” Why do we do that to ourselves? My confidence has definitely been boosted by Jeff’s challenges. But I still compare myself way too much. I tell myself I’m a writer. Then I turn around and decide that someone else is better. And yet, I have a self-published novel that has just received a Kirkus Star for remarkable merit. How ridiculously powerful our self-doubt can be! I completely relate with this beautifully written post by you, an excellent writer. Write on!

    • Rebekah, I know you… and we’ve never met! When it comes to comparing self to others, I bet I’m better than you! 😉

      Self-doubt is huge. One of my favourite Twitter feeds is Quotes for Writers, and I’m amazed at how often it features statements by HUGE writers about the inner battle involved in the process. It gives me hope that I actually appear to be on the RIGHT page in feeling that tearing tension. Apparently it is par for the course.

      Press on, my friend, and thank you for the very kind words.

  7. Great post! I too was dragged – not quite kicking and screaming, but almost – into declaring myself a writer. It was always so much easier to simply enjoy writing than to live under the magnifying glass that I have now created with the words “I am a writer.”

    Yet, I feel energized and inspired. I hope you do too, even in the likely-sporadic moments of sleep you’re getting. Congratulations on the new addition to your family!

    • Hi Christine,

      Thanks for the congratulations on our little one and for the encouragement. I agree with you that mingled with the fear and trepidation, there is excitement. I often think of myself as a slow and small dreamer, but this course alongside so many others like yourself is threatening to stretch my slow and small self.

      And that is likely just what the doctor ordered!

  8. Makes the stomach lurch, doesn’t it?
    I, too, imagined that following Jeff’s 15 habits would be a simple thing. Meddling, indeed. And a little bossy to boot. 🙂

    And yet I am overwhelmed by the knowledge that this fear that makes me swallow audibly is shared. Good stuff, that.

    • Thanks Thelma. It’s funny how there is encouragement found in the shared gulping, eh? Thanks to fellows like Jeff and co-travelers like these, I dare to be hopeful that I can come out different than I entered this little journey. It appears you will too!

    • Hey Nic, thanks for the comment. My finding, at least in conversation with a few published writers, is that the senses of uncertainty and doubt never really go away. It seems that if one struggles to sit well with nagging inner battles, then writing is not likely the task of choice!

      Thanks also for the congratulations on my declaration. I appreciate the kind wishes as well, though I fear that it’s a virtual certainty that some level of embarrassment awaits anyone who dares put himself in print. So bring it on!

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