My writing coach Ann Kroeker, in her terrific membership program called Your Platform Matters, recently asked the question, “Why did you decide to start writing?” I was surprised how much I had to really dig into my memory bank to give an honest answer, but I’m glad I did. It reminded me that the journey has been rich with the support and encouragement of friends and family. I’m hoping my own story will help other writers who have also taken an indirect approach to their craft.
From “writer to “Writer”
I found it helpful to differentiate (as suggested by another writer who responded to the question) between “writing” and “Writing.” I realized I had been writing for decades, yet only recently considered myself a Writer.
As a liberal arts major, (even though my major was Biology, I was always required to write papers and reports. My grandfather had encouraged letter writing and journaling from my early school years by writing to me and by buying me a beautiful leather-bound journal that made writing feel so special (and when I filled up one volume, he bought me another). I’ve written about my grandfather’s influence before in “The 1957 Letter That Encouraged Me To Write.”
For years, I did all kinds of technical and nonfiction writing as a working scientist in my early professional life as a leprosy researcher, technical writing for an engineering company, medical and personal finance writing for some online newsletters, and later as a community activist, writing for my favorite nonprofit groups. It was fairly sterile writing for the most part, and I never identified myself as a writer.
I thought I wasn’t creative
For a long time, in fact, I thought of “creativity” and “artist” as words that only described painters and sculptors and the like. I WANTED to be creative, so I joined a little group several years ago that promised to help me be more playful and creative. But I resisted the encouragement of the leader (Dr. Cyndi Briggs) to get out colored pens and crayons, glue and glitter, and see what inspired me. “But I don’t HAVE any of that stuff in the house!” I whined. What she was asking me to do felt like a waste of time. It wasn’t productive!
Fortunately, with great patience and humor, she said, “Well, if there is a blank piece of paper in front of you, what DO you want to do with it?” In an instant of clarity, I said, “I want to put words on it!”
So at about age 60, I started expanding my understanding of creativity and how it can manifest in so many aspects of our lives, even in science, engineering, and business. I realized that my ability to explain technical things clearly was its own form of creativity.
At about the same time, I started my blog Heartspoken.com to share the journey I was on to identify and strengthen what I felt to be the four essential connections of my life: with God, with Self, with Others, and with Nature. Somewhere along the line, I began calling myself a Writer, and at age 72, I became an Author.
It’s never too late!
So if you feel a yearning to write—whether your writing ever sees the light of day or not—do it. And let my example remind you: No matter how old you are, it’s never too late to try something new!