On Writer’s Habit
Do You Show Up to Become Passionate, or Do You Become Passionate in Order to Show Up?
Saturday. It was a holiday. And the birds were singing, “It’s the weekend!” Yet mum was preparing to go to school. This wasn’t the first time.
She didn’t go because the principal requested her to. She went because there was an unfinished task from the previous week. This time, she was making arrows using black and red tapes to indicate the student’s pathway in and out of the classroom.
“Why don’t you ask the gardener or other teachers to do it?”, I asked.
Mum said, “It’s easier to get things done on your own.”
I wasn’t satisfied with her answer. So I followed mum to help her out that day. The journey to school took about half an hour from our place. As we reach the front gate, mum greeted the school security guard.
She jumped in excitement as mum gave her two packs of Nasi Lemak that she bought earlier. “This is for you and your sister.”
As we got out of the car, mum’s colleague greeted her as though they were best friends, “Hey Puan Rose, what are you doing here on Saturday? So rajin (Malay slang for diligent) la.”
Whenever we walked past students, mum would talk to every one of them, asking what they were all up to. As we worked through the task of taping the arrows, I realised the reason behind her motivation to show up to school.
She loves what she’s doing! The students, the workers, other teachers — she empowers her environment by letting them empower herself.
I could only admire, ‘What an amazing sight to see someone who found passion in her work’.
Do You Show Up to Become Passionate, Or Do You Become Passionate to Show Up?
As a young, aspiring writer I’m convinced that the answer is the latter. The secret sauce to consistency is a passion for writing. The reason is simple — if you don’t have anything to write about, why would you waste your time writing?
“For tremendous reasons, Azim. I do it to generate side-income. He does it to create a strong professional profile. She does it because she loves sharing her experiences with the world. Others do it because, you know, why not?”
Those are good points and I have nothing against them. But let me paraphrase the question. If you have nothing valuable to write about, why are wasting your reader’s time reading your writings?
My only concern is one thing. What if the stuff you write brings no real value to people?
“Well, of course, it depends on how you define ‘value’. And we know our writing skills improve the more we write.”
Exactly. We all have our definitions of ‘value’ so it’s unwise to generalise it for all. But I guess what I’m saying is that we, aspiring writers, need to recognise what makes us love what we do.
Or better yet, do we love what we do? Or are we forcing it? There is this notion that everyone is, deep down, a writer. And I resonate with that idea. Our major task is to uncover “What is it we are meant to preach?”
To Show Up is Not the Most Important Thing, It’s The Only Thing
“Ahh, another guy whining about writing every day.” It’s because it’s true! You cannot be a competent driver if you don’t drive every day.
But when it comes to writing, it doesn’t mean you’re forcing yourself to throw garbage onto the white screen or the blank paper. It’s about channelling your thoughts and finishing what you start. Also trimming away the garbage and preserving the pearls.
If you do this long enough, you might even find diamonds in that stash of expressions.
One habit that I practice on Medium, it to NOT hit publish until I know the article is ready to serve its purpose. Eventually, it goes down to publishing one story a week for me.
Okay, I’ll Stop Whining :)
In essence, you can develop any kinds of habits but it will only stay if you are passionate about what you are doing. In other words, it is only possible to write every day, in the long-run, if you truly love the act of writing.
Otherwise, you are wasting not only your time but also your readers time. Writing is a part of who you are. An important part. Writing articulates your thoughts that will otherwise be forgotten.
As a competent writer, you must write every day, regardless if it’s on your computer or notebook. Your goal is to find *your* true voice in the pile of words. A voice worth listening to.
Also, you must publish every week, regardless if it’s on Medium or your platform of choice. You want to welcome feedback so that you are not imprisoned by your grandiose-delusion of your self.
Whenever I sit down to write on Sundays, I kept thinking about my mum going to school on Saturdays. It wasn’t the tasks that drive her to school. It was an empowering sense of pride. It was her passion to make the people in the school felt great about themselves.
Thank you for giving your time. Rest assured, the more you give, the more you will get back :)
Peace and blessing,