Tag Archives: writing

A Case for Reading

In the last few years, I’ve exposed myself to speeches and articles about how to become a better writer. Almost all have included the same message: To become a better writer, read good writing. And read more, and read some more.

This advice has always irritated me. Unlike many of my peers, I don’t relish the thought of curling up with a good book. Reading comprehension has never been my strong suit.

I got a card at the closest branch of the Vancouver library a couple of years ago and went back only once – to return the books I borrowed on the first visit.  At the end of courses, my textbooks usually still had that “new book” smell.

I got through school mainly because I showed up for class and did the assignments. The more challenging they were, the more I learned from them.

That same approach has fueled my writing to date. I show up for life. It gives me assignments. Some of them challenge me to my core. A fraction of my experiences and reflections provide topics for my blog.

For years, I couldn’t find the courage to record what my mind, heart, and body were telling me. I’m learning to honour myself enough to notice what’s happening and write that sh*t down.

Oh, my goodness. What a gift! All that discarded matter turns into compost rich in insights. The process of writing and breaking it down frees and heals me. It helps me find the best way forward I can muster.

Recent life events have triggered some soul-searching. Maybe my avoidance of reading has been at least partially driven by a fear of listening and hearing. That dodging may have impeded my development as a person and as a writer for much of my life.

I’ve decided to listen more deeply. Maybe it’s time to hunt up my library card and take out a few books to experience what others are saying.

This time, I may read one or two of them before I take them back.


Do I Have Tips for Aspiring Writers?

I had a new experience this week when I checked for reader comments.

“Great blog!

Do you have any tips and hints for aspiring writers?

I’m hoping to start my own site soon, but I’m a little lost on everything. Would you propose starting with a free platform like WordPress or go for a paid option? There are so many choices out there that I’m completely confused…

Any tips? Cheers!”

I’ve given the person a link to the following thoughts.

Your request for advice has prompted some soul-searching. I want my blog to bring a smile and perhaps a new idea to my readers in 400 words or fewer. Where do I draw the line when something crops up outside that self-created mandate?

I am learning in my face-to-face relationships that advice-giving often isn’t the most helpful approach. Listening to the person is. If it feels right, I can offer my own experience in similar situations and trust that the individual will glean anything that may be relevant to them.

I want to apply the same principle online. And I need to ensure that my screen and keyboard don’t consume so much of my time and focus that I lose touch with those closest to me.

This week, I heard your question and had some wiggle room in my schedule, so here goes.

I didn’t research the options when I started my website and blog, and the choices have likely multiplied since then. When I realized in the summer of 2016 that it was time to share my writing beyond my workshop companions and folks who were willing to act as sounding boards, a friend referred me to the web host she uses.

I can relate to the experience of feeling lost in general. I am learning to make friends with that sensation. That’s a good thing because unknowing is a more frequent companion than surety for me. As long as I am searching, I know I’m alive and open to new ideas. That state of mind is a gift for me as a writer. Does it also infuriate me? Yes, at times.

I am beginning to trust that answers will come if I am patient.

Go well, fellow writer and fellow human.