I love the art and act of writing.
I have always loved it.
I love the feel and sound of a pencil scratching paper.
I love the lingering smell of its cedar on my fingers.
I love the callus on my middle finger from decades of gripping writing instruments.
I love the click of the keys as I type.
I love watching the cursor zip left to right across the screen, leaving a trail of digital ink.
I love trying to find the right words.
I love starting.
I love starting over.
I love finishing.
I love having an idea arrive at the worst possible place and time and scrambling like a junkie to score something on which to capture it.
I love seeing which ideas and lines connect with readers. And which don’t.
There is something deeply spiritual and raw about the whole experience.
When I began writing creatively, I wrote whatever I wanted.
But something changed the moment I decided to share my writing with others.
In that moment, my role and responsibilities as a writer shifted from craft to community. It shifted from being “gifted” to being a gift giver.
Which meant that my writing was no longer mine.
It was no longer for or about me.
I believe this shift creates one of the greatest obstacles for aspiring writers and artists to overcome.
I’ve certainly struggled with it.
Writing out of a love of writing is a completely different animal than writing to be read. Because in giving you must give up the thing you offer. You must let it go.
But what you receive in return is far more valuable.
Think about how you go about choosing a gift for someone.
You don’t go out and get them the gift you most want. You get them the gift they most want, right?
The best gifts are intimate. Sacrificial even. They reveal your care and attention, as well as how well you know the recipient.
Many writers and artists I encounter don’t approach their work in this way—as if it is a gift to be given to another person.
They still see their work as theirs.
They treat their creative work as if it were about them.
But the moment we choose to share our work with others…
The moment we choose to give through the gifts we’ve received…
…that is the moment we become gift givers.
…that is the moment our work is no longer about us.
…that is the moment that separates aspiring creatives from those that achieve lasting impact.
You have been given the ability to create and connect.
What are you doing with this gift?
Are you giving away that which you most want or that which others most need?
(Photo by Brandon Warren on Flickr. Used under Creative Commons license.)
Keitharsis is a blog for creative types. My hope is to help you stay unstuck & take creative risks. Please tell your friends about this little nook on the web. Save time and click here to receive Tuesday through Thursday posts via email.