thoughts of a new writer

where to start. what to do. is it really so hard?

Why do people write? Why do I want to write? What spurs anyone to contextualize ideas in a written form? Is it purely a self-satisfying pursuit? Or, like song lyrics, is it a shaded desire to express ideas in a less threatening manner than direct dialogue?

what even is writing?

Arrow with Purpose Written inside itAt its most direct level it’s a means to convey information from writer to reader. I believe, in my case, it is a pursuit to organize and come to terms with my own thoughts, and then gradually have these thoughts expressed to others for their consumption, and hopefully enjoyment.

I think most writers believe they have something to say that others want to hear, and that their audience will gain from it in some manner. In my case I would like it to be a combination of informing and entertaining.

how do we start?

Now, in order to get to a point where you have an audience, what kind of trials does a new writer need to go through? What kind of dues need to be paid? Perhaps some have already found their voice but I think with time comes clarity – so the opposite of what this piece is about.

Louis L'Amour Writing quote

Perhaps some people, myself included, have a natural predilection for putting thoughts on paper and having those thoughts be relatively coherent right away. If this is the case, I think the early process of writing is more about focussing on what ideas and topics are most suited to the new writer.

It's all the audience's fault

Or – does the process of a new, or I suppose any, writer need to be a torturous exercise in self reflection and examination? Surely the common cliché is that of a burdened soul, hunched over their writing device, plunging themselves into unknown depths of agony, both in terms of drawing the inspiration out of themselves, and at the same time cursing the audience for being ignorant fools who are the reason I am writing in the first place.

Woman pen in hand head on notebookThey need to be informed and entertained and it’s all their fault that I have to go through this mental tooth extraction. If only they had these thoughts themselves I wouldn’t have to put my brain into this meat grinder.

nope it's school's fault

Students writing in classThey say write what you know. If this is the case, why do so many people find writing to be so difficult? When we are told to write as students there is a natural opposition that forms because who likes to be told what to do in the best of situations? Does this early indoctrination of writing equals tedious hardship play itself out throughout one’s life?

Later on in life there may be scores of people who really want to write about what they know, but have been so traumatized by the initial forays into the medium that they assume it would be a terrible exercise full of work they don’t want to do.

Where can I get a bus full of people

What makes a good writer? Carrying on from the thread of writing what you know, well, most people know a lot of things simply from being alive. What makes the average person’s experience less valid than a “Writer’s” experience? Most likely it is simply the way a Writer conveys these experiences.

Bus with giant banana on top

Everyone is a son or a daughter, everyone is a person of a country, a person of a society, why don’t more people write about these things? It is obviously not as simplistic as that in execution, but personally I would love a bus full of people to fill out a form of one thousand words simply saying at the top: Write What You Know. And see what these people have to say.

surely it has to come naturally

I think all of the above comes down to a combination of two major things. One, a desire to be expressive and two, an ability to easily write. Surely many people feel the desire to express themselves but not an overwhelming need. A driving compulsion to educate the masses on some level. Or, this expression comes out in other forms. Need these forms be artistic in nature? That’s a discussion for another time.

Edward Hopper quote on artistic expression

Secondly, I’m going to assume that for the vast majority of people who write, or at least wish to write, the actual act of writing and getting coherent thoughts down on paper comes fairly naturally. I can’t really imagine someone pounding out a thousand page novel hating everything, while searching for words they don’t even know exist and not knowing even the most basic plot devices or conflict/resolution schemes.

self exploration will provide the answers

Cherry pie slice in the skyAll of this has been quite pie in the sky and incredibly idealistic. Simplifying the act and profession of writing into cliched simplicities is an exercise many established writers would be equal parts angry at and sad at. Outrage, I believe, is what everyone likes to express these days. There would be outrage in the streets if established writers glanced at this shabby attempt at breaking down an age old art form.

But my point is not to come to an actual conclusion to the opening question here – it is to explore my own thoughts on writing. And over the next few weeks hopefully discover a voice, a passion, a reason to become a writer.

Why write imposed over image of laptopBy asking theoretical questions and having a quasi discussion with myself and an imaginary audience, I seek to find the answer to the question: Why do people write? And then change that question to Why does David want to write? In no short order, and across a decent number of thought articles later, I hope I will have an answer.

Open dictionary with a magnifying glass and pen on it

what is writing

  • Merriam-Webster: “the act or process of one who writes”
  • Wikipedia: “a medium of human communication that involves the representation of a language with symbols”
  • Britannica: “Languages are systems of symbols, and writing is a system for symbolizing these symbols.”

Hmmmmm. Not much clarity here. I like the one about all the symbols. There’s a circular statement if I ever saw one.

start writing

  • Write. Anything. Write a bloody grocery list.
  • There are no lessons to be learned. No point to the writing. Words on paper.
  • Write about writing. Write down your thoughts on writing. Write down why you want to write.
  • Like the quote says, nothing flows until you open the tap.
  • It doesn’t matter what comes out first because just like a test or homework, something is better than nothing.

writing is easy

  • Putting words to paper (ok screen) is not hard.
  • People complicate getting started writing by needing to have a grand purpose behind it.
  • To start writing just write about what you want to write about.
  • There’s so much time to write your opus. For now just write why you want to write your opus.
  • What’s not easy is figuring out why a picture of milk and peaches came up in my search for images under the query “easy.”

writing is hard

  • Writing is not hard. You’re making it hard.
  • Like starting most projects, people see and get scared by the scope of the entire endeavour. 
  • We lose perspective of the little steps it takes to achieve something.
  • I will repeat: write a grocery list. Then write about what you will make with the groceries on the list. Violá. Writing.
Image from

what I did

  • I want to be a business writer, a thought writer, and a humour writer. 
  • Not exactly a well thought out and focussed niche.
  • To start however, I wrote about writing.
  • All the articles in this section were some of the first things I wrote after returning to writing after years away.
  • Just the process of settling down to write allowed for things to start flowing, just like the L’Amour quote about the water. Funny how right he was.
  • Eventually a rhythm developed and I found myself gradually easing into writing about what I actually wanted to write about, and those pieces became my blog.