This post is #21 in a series of 50 dedicated to the art and life of writing, in support of the 50 for 50 Project to benefit WriteGirl. If you like it, or if you think it could have been improved by a better writing education for its author, please give generously. And pass it on.
One of the best ways to get better at anything, writing included, is to do it every day.
It's the main reason I decided to start blogging seven years ago. After writing and producing my two-person-show-for-four-people, I'd tasted the joy that is creating something personally meaningful for public consumption, and I was hooked. I'd continue to scribble in my journal as necessary, but knowing I was writing out loud, even to a barely-there public, made me reach a little further every day toward a higher and higher baseline of excellence.
But before the blog, before the show, there were letters. All my life, there had been letters, as my doting paternal grandfather pretty much demanded them. We wrote volumes to one another, back and forth: Chicago to Ithaca, Chicago to New York City, Chicago to Los Angeles. (For as much as he and Gram enjoyed having me back home for those six years between coasts, I think he was always a little wistful about the corresponding lack of correspondence.)
It was an early-seeded habit that served me well, for it kept me writing, writing, writing during those years when the rest of my outward-facing output was overtly commercial and sadly lackluster. It held the thread of who I really was underneath all of those ads and "obligations" and bullshit until I was finally ready to pull my head from my ass and recommit to real writing. It still does: while I may not be ready to speak my peace in public, in private, in the letters (now called "emails") that no one but the recipient sees, in the Wave blips I trade back and forth with my friend (and wallpaper contributor) Dave Seah, I am fully myself, in all of my mess, process, and confusion. And while great, honking swaths of it is pure mess, because I am sharing, because I am trying to push a thought outward to be seen/heard/understood, I am also getting better at writing. Which is really just another form of talking, only with less wear and tear on the vocal cords.
If you want to write but don't know where to start, if you want to write more or more eloquently or more persuasively or more humorously, write someone a letter. Every day. You can call it an email, although if you are wise and generous like my friend Patti Digh, you will also write an actual letter every day, which you can call a "thank-you note." Because there is always someone to thank, just as there is always something to be grateful for.
Every single day.