11 years ago, I decided I’d learn how to write.
I had never felt like a writer.
And I didn’t think I was creative.
But I was working in marketing, and content marketing was becoming popular.
How could I not write?
So, I joined a course, studied blog posts, tried out my skills, and it turned out that even I could learn how to write …
Learning how to write changed my life
That’s no exaggeration.
After my first guest post was published on Copyblogger in April 2012, I plucked up the courage to quit my job.
I had enough of working for a boss. I had enough of office politics and 70-hour working weeks. I was burning out so I wanted to take a sabbatical and figure out what I wanted to do with my new-found freedom.
But that sabbatical never happened. I wrote a few more guest posts, and to my surprise, I picked up my first clients.
I hadn’t planned to become a writer. It hadn’t crossed my mind that people might ask me, a non-native English speaker, to write for them.
Yet, somehow, I was making my living writing.
I had a love-hate relationship with writing
But deadlines were always looming.
And after much frustration, eventually, I’d produce a decent piece of writing.
That’s what I liked—the feeling of having written.
I kept writing because I loved the feeling of having created something new. And perhaps deep down, I felt I could change my relationship with writing.
Could I learn to love writing?
Yes, I learned to love writing
When I think back of those early days, the transformation seems remarkable.
I don’t wrestle anymore with my inner critic. I procrastinate a lot less. I write on despite my doubts.
Writing has become so much more than a way to earn a living. Writing makes me feel alive.
Writing makes me feel like my best self. When I write, I can be at my most compassionate, my most generous. I feel connected to myself and to you—dear reader. I feel like I belong in this world.
My health hasn’t been great in the last few years. But no matter how overwhelmed I am or how distracted by pain, I can focus on writing. No matter how numb I can feel all day, I feel alive when I write. How is that possible?
I treasure these precious moments of writing.
How I went from hating to loving writing
If you have a love-hate relationship with writing, too, I’d like you to know it’s possible to change.
Writing can be hard and joyful.
I’ve not discovered a quick fix. It’s been a slow process of learning to sit with my doubts, to focus on the creative process (or rather: on the one creative task in front of me), and to work more productively with my inner critic.
Instead of fighting my inner critic, I learned to listen to her. I discovered that my inner critic was telling me I was afraid. I was afraid that I was too boring to be a writer. I was afraid that I wasn’t good enough. I was afraid I was wasting my time trying to write something I didn’t know enough about. I was afraid of harsh comments, of people laughing at me.
My inner critic is trying to shield me from disappointment so I learned to be gentle with her.
I tell her it doesn’t matter when I write a bad first draft—it’s merely one step in the writing process. If she has suggestions, she can wait until I’m revising and editing.
I’ve learned to trust that even when the writing process is messy, each piece will turn out okay—even if it’s different from what I had in mind. Sometimes a piece almost writes itself, sometimes it takes much longer. That’s because there’s a real difference between writing something you know vs. writing to gain clarity. In the latter case, writing becomes a way to think and discover.
Writing about what you know is more straightforward but less interesting. Writing to gain clarity is more challenging but more interesting.
Yet, even when writing is hard, it can still be joyful. As I learned to be okay with the discomfort of uncertainty (as you never know how a piece will turn out), I found joy in each step of the writing process.
I found joy in formulating my thoughts. Joy in gaining clarity. Joy in expressing myself. Joy in creating something new.
Today, I feel lucky to write
I don’t write every day. Daily-ish is good enough for me.
But each day I write, I feel lucky.
Thanks to writing, I escaped corporate life. I freed myself. I learned to express myself better. I even learned to be me. I learned what matters to me.
Writing taught me to pay attention. First to words, and sentences, and rhythm. But then also to the world around me.
Writing makes me feel more grounded in life, more appreciative, more mindful.
So, if you ask me today why I write …
Then, yes, of course, sometimes I write because something needs to be written for my business.
But mostly, I write because it makes me feel alive.
I feel lucky to have discovered the joy of writing.
I feel lucky I’m writing.
Thank you for reading, my friend.