Writing as Pressure
I don’t often feel pressure to write. I write because I want to or have to; but I know a lot of people for whom writing is a major chore. Some people think their ideas are not good enough and some people are unsure of how to put their ideas into comprehensible words and structured sentences on the page. Then there are plenty of people who have grammar issues or are afraid they have grammar issues. The worst is when people tell other people that they can’t write – everyone believes it. I have one friend who is paralyzed by writing because one friend criticized him. I have another friend who writes and then trashes every draft before asking for myhelp.
But writing doesn’t have to be stressful. The best way to learn to write and even to write well is to sit down and do it. Practice. Write letters. Write more emails. Try writing a blog posting to a real or even an imaginary blog.
My friends with children constantly ask me if I think text messages or even email is eroding the way kids write today. I emphatically say no. I put on my writing professor hat (I do have a doctorate in composition, even if it’s not currently in use) and remind people that writing is all about knowing your rhetorical situation. Sometimes, like when writing an instant message, it’s appropriate to write “LOL” or something that is rife with meaning using the fewest letters possible. No one should use “LOL” when writing an essay for his or her English class. Writing a Facebook status takes creativity and brevity, things that are valued in society as a whole, but we forget how we learn to do it. Savvy social media users, especially those on Twitter, know that saying as much as possible with as few words as possible is a skill and an art rolled into one. No one is going to read or respond to any update that is too long; that’s not the point of social media. The under-thirty set knows this implicitly. The over-thirty set is quickly learning it.
Writing takes practice practice practice. There’s no magic pill to make one a better writer and there aren’t any facts to memorize like in a math class. The best thing that people can do for themselves is to take the pressure off of themselves. Do the best you can. Have fun with the writing opportunities that come your way. In time you’ll get better and more importantly, feel more comfortable with it.
If someone had told me even five years ago that I would be able to put any of my writing out into the world, I would have told him he was crazy. I have always been a writer, but only for myself and a select few friends. It has taken me time and maturity and a great deal of courage to share my work with the broader universe. I have the support of friends and family. I have a great network of writing friends these days (*hugs to you*).
So don’t stress yourself out. Just write. That’s how I do it.