I have been writing for the last eight years, ever since I left my last corporate job and went off on my own.
I found out quickly that to be a good writer, I needed to do three things:
- Read good writing. This was not hard to do. I love to read.
- Write a lot, on a regular basis. Initially this was not hard to do. Over the last few years, it has gotten much more difficult as I crammed more into my life, including a new startup.
- Feel and reflect. This comes only when I have grounded myself, slowed down the pace of life to one where I can hear my inner voice. At times, this has seemed nearly impossible to do.
When I write, I am connecting back to that inner voice, giving it full expression, rather than a slight inkling that it can only muster in the noise of daily life. If I am writing well, I am connecting to the reader. This is a side benefit. It is never a direct outcome that I'm going after. All writers write for themselves first.
I have been reading a lot of my favorite authors--those known for the discipline of writing. Julia Cameron, Natalie Goldberg. Anne Lamott. What I notice is that even they have some books that I don't care for. Some of it is pedantic. Some of it is too introspective and mimicking parts of their life without admitting it. Some of it is self-absorbed. Even fine writers have not so fine moments.
But mostly, I admire their simple and honest words. Phrases that make me want to read them more than once. Sentences that are worth tweeting.
Lately, I have gotten back into space of hearing my Muse--the one that literally dictates in the middle of the night or when I'm waking in the morning, or at the end of the day. I can hear my Muse put together entire paragraphs on topics that have recently coalesced in my mind. She laughs at the funny parts and oohs and ahhs at the insightful parts. She smiles at the turn of a phrase.
In those moments, I know that my job is to be the butterfly catcher. To catch the words swirling above the crown of my head and put them into my computer, to be archived and reviewed at another time. Oh, to be a butterfly catcher, in the middle of winter, because inside, it is summer all over again.