There are many important truths for creatives. The three most important truths to me are, “You are what you write,” “There is no such thing as a stupid idea,” and “Experiment with everything.”
Although I’d love to expand on all three truths, allow me to dive into the first one: “You are what you write.”
When we read a book by an author we aren’t familiar with, the only thing we know of the author is that he or she wrote the words on the pages. That is the only node of communication between author and reader.
The opinions expressed in the book may not necessarily be of the authors opinion. For example, a fiction book that glorifies the crime life does not necessarily mean that the author glorifies crime. It simply means that the author finds the subject of crime fascinating enough to warrant writing about it.
The interesting thing about writing is that in all cases, the reader gets a tiny glimpse of the inside of the writer’s mind. No matter what the piece is about, the resulting words on the page are manifestations of the ideas that were conjured by the writer.
As the writer, we are allowed the opportunity to choose what part of our minds we would like to expose; we are given the chance to choose which ideas we deem important enough to write about.
If we view our writings as an extension of our consciousness, then we don’t necessarily need to worry about critics. Some people like crime novels; some people hate crime novels. We never need to write for the people we know will hate our work, we simply write for the people we think will like our work.
By viewing our writings as a part of us, we are allowed to express ourselves in our writing in the same way we express ourselves in our speech or in our attire. Some people use slang, some people speak very formally. Some people dress in dark clothing, others dress in bright clothing. We never pay any mind to people who don’t like the way we dress, so we don’t need to pay any mind to people who don’t like the way we write.
But at the same time, it’s important to keep in mind the right message for the right audience. We wouldn’t show up to a wedding wearing the same clothes we’d wear to a birthday party. So it is important to keep in mind who our audience is, what our purpose is, and prepare to face the consequences that may arise for attempting to “break the norm.”
Perhaps the most important reason “You are what you write” is so important is that if we treat our writings as a part of ourselves, then we will respect our writings as much as we respect ourselves. If we expect our readers to respect our writings, we must first respect those same writings, just like we can’t expect people to respect us if we don’t respect ourselves.
If we hold respect for our writings, then we raise the bar for our own quality of writing, and in turn, we become better writers. Just like a pianist must practice a piece many many times before recital, we as writers must write many many times before publications. We see many books that have made authors famous, but what we don’t see is how many times that book has been written and rewritten and thrown in the trash before it was polished in to the gem we see on bookshelves.
By treating our writings with respect, we commit to our craft of writing by continually improving. I hope you respect yourself and your writing enough to commit to constant improvement.