Life

Wilting Writing

I’m convinced I was better at writing a few years ago than I am now. I might have a slightly more developed voice now, I might know how to use a semicolon, I might be able to see more of my own mistakes while revising than I used to before, but I’m completely sure I used to be better at writing. I hated writing until the age of 11, the start of middleschool. Before that, all writing had to be done on pen and paper, which inevitably led to hundreds of spelling mistakes in stories and essays that were less than 100 words long. Then computers came along, and spell check turned me into a spelling pro. I even won the spelling bee at some point, because my brain might not remember how to spell a word, but my fingers do (motor memory, fuck yeah!).
Then, when I was 14, freshman year of highschool, I was lucky enough to have a writing teacher who seemed to care about his job. That’s probably a bad choice of words, because his attitude was a mix of caring and careless, but he knew the difference between those who wanted to get better, and the lost causes. He helped the former, and did what he could to let the latter get by with grades that wouldn’t completely destroy their GPA. So, I guess, he cared.
He might have lied, but he said I have a “voice” when I wrote. I’m not sure what he meant, because I wrote the way I talk, but I guess that’s what “voice” is to begin with. He’d let me make questionable stylistic choices, and that boosted my confidence. At some point I even wanted to become a journalist and make people think.
Now I work in marketing, and my job is, first and foremost, to prevent people from thinking too much.
Then, when I was 14, each paper, story, or essay I wrote would go through the process of brainstorming, outlining, writing, revising, rewriting, and repeating that until something half-decent came out. That process helped me become disciplined with my writing, and I think what I learned about writing during  my freshman year is the only thing that got me through high-school.
I might have had a bad idea, but I wrote about it well, and that was enough.
Since graduation I’ve let go of the process. At some point I decided that having a general idea of what I want to write about is enough, but I quickly proved myself to be wrong.
Not having a plan when writing leads to spectacular intro paragraphs; that’s it. After that you’re left with a good thesis statement and no idea what to do, what to say, and what issues/subjects to address.
I need to bring that process back, because what I see time and time again is that the difference between good writers and bad writers isn’t how many words they know, how well they know how to use a semicolon, or how good their idea is. Anyone can get an editor who will take care of that.
The difference between a good writer and a bad writer is that a good writer knows how to get their point across efficiently.

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