stevenwalker

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I had a blog all ready to go until I read the latest offering from Tumblemoose. I now feel compelled to say something more than just a comment at the foot of his post.First of all, I don’t think for one second that writing skills are a “use it or lose it” affair. The truly skilled essay writing website writer – and I think that describes the man – is naturally gifted. That gift is a part of the person, whether they like it or not.This, I think, is the first problem. There can be great guilt attached to knowing you possess a skill that you feel you are underutilising, especially if this is the first time you find yourself stepping off the gas. You feel you should be writing. It is your duty. You owe it to yourself not to betray your gift, or you owe it to the higher power that bestowed it upon you. This is dangerous thinking. “Should” is a nasty, insidious word. It is full of regret about what didn’t happen, and riddled with guilt about what will not happen.There are plenty of reasons a freelance writer can wane, but losing skills is not one of them. The only way that can happen is if they have a crucial portion of their brain removed, or if dementia sets in. You can wane because you become disillusioned, you lose interest, you lack incentive, you’re too tired, you’re short on ideas, or you simply don’t have the time.There’s nothing unusual about any of these, and they are certainly not just cause to beat yourself up. Life is a funny old bugger. You are the only thing in this life that you can ever be totally in control of, and most times that doesn’t feel like it’s happening. Outside influences affect us, and take their toll on our emotions.Creative writing is an emotionally-driven endeavour. It cannot be otherwise and still possess true power. When your emotions are pulled about – even slightly – your writing can suffer, and your attitude to your writing can be transformed.This is not necessarily a bad thing. There are seasons to your life, as there are to the years that hurtle by all too quickly. Sometimes, just the fact that you become acutely aware of time passing can cause you to take stock. Are you spending your time wisely? Will what you are doing now be of any genuine consequence when you’re on your death-bed, except as a source of regret? Damn, you’ll think, why the hell did I waste so much time and effort on that?Writing – even professional writing – is nothing but a glorified hobby. Oftentimes it is bedecked in fancy garb and pomp and circumstance, but it’s just writing. It’s just words organised to your own personal taste on a screen or on paper. It’s words for the unknown masses, when perhaps words for the familiar few in your life would be a better option.I long ago came to terms with the sham of writing. I’d like to write another novel, but the price would be too high. I don’t beat myself up about it any more. I’m older and wiser.And that is another reason that I don’t believe you can lose your writing skills. In fact, I believe – even if they are rarely used – they grow with the passage of time.Creative writing seeks to move people. For that to happen, the writer must have an understanding of human nature and the way the world turns. You don’t truly get that until you’ve been around a while. And the longer you are around, the more insightful you become. You know more about other people; you have more life experience to draw from; you see different sides to an argument, not just the one side your pig-headed younger self would have fought and died for. Your emotional and intellectual library swells; your vocabulary increases, by default; your ability to express yourself is more honed, because you are better able to understand the workings of your head and the pounding of your heart.All this absolutely has to make you a better writer, even without a word written. You may not want to write yet, but it’s all waiting for you when and if you ever do.Everything I’ve written since my first novel has been for money. I wrote my first novel never thinking it might be published until it was all but done. That was the essence of our shared love, dear readers: writing for enjoyment. Writing for money is not the same, and it can diminish the creative process because it’s something we should be doing, rather than something we want to be doing.Tumblemoose hit on that when he spoke of his participation in National Novel Writing Month. He said it was perhaps a bit far-fetched to think that might have hurt his writing, but I think he may be right. Writing against the clock can be a useful exercise for the freelance writer involved in “cold” writing for websites and suchlike, but I think it could easily be detrimental to the creative writing process that derives its power from passion.I don’t know exactly what’s eating Tumblemoose, but I know he shouldn’t worry that his skills are disappearing. And I think he should take this opportunity to kick back and enjoy not writing. It’s not etched in stone that you have to enjoy what you do. Writing can be a chore, and it can most definitely interfere with other aspects of your life that are, in the grand scheme of things, far more important.When it’s time to write, you’ll feel it. Until then, bide your time, wait for your season, and know that every day is making you a more effective and skilled writer, even without one sentence written.