Writing on Writing

The trouble is all in getting started.

My end-of-year evaluation in first grade marked me as a sub-par writer. I don’t understand how you can gauge a seven-year-old’s writing, but apparently, mine was opaque. Nearly thirty years later this early appraisal seems to have been erroneous, but it has stuck with me.

Writing comes easily to me – when I force myself to sit down and put pen to paper. I have always written well under a deadline because I am a natural procrastinator with a very healthy fear of failure. Once I finally calm down, organize my thoughts, and begin writing, I am amazed by how quickly it all comes together. As Tamsen Donner famously wrote, “I shall say the trouble is all in getting started.”

I enjoy writing and love editing, but I don’t like editing my own work. I don’t have much of a writing process and haven’t spent time honing my craft beyond what comes naturally. Coming back to my own work has always been a struggle and I hope to develop a process that lessens the burden of revision.

I struggle mightily with a lack of confidence in my own knowledge, ability, or standing. In chapter four of On Writing Well, Zinsser states, “writing is an act of ego, and you might as well admit it.” A lifelong distaste for egotism has made me hesitant to share my own work. I wonder “why would anyone care what I have to say?” and that cuts my efforts off at the knees. Self-sabotage and imposter syndrome have been my forever companions when it comes to writing.

Writing behind the scenes in my professional life has given me a platform for creativity that doesn’t feel egotistical. Writing for an organization uses my abilities for the greater good, rather than for self-promotion. I have penned reports, solicitations, grant applications, social media content, newsletters, and scripts but I have never attached my name to any of them. While I enjoy the return on a good solicitation letter, being awarded a grant from an application, or seeing the video from a script I drafted posted online, I rarely feel passionate about the stories others want me to tell.

I intend to use my master’s coursework to practice my craft, create good habits around writing and revision, and learn to trust my own expertise and what I can share with the world. I look forward to evolving my voice(s) across different personal and professional platforms while still holding true to my values of honesty and integrity.

Writing behind the scenes in my professional life has given me a platform for creativity that doesn’t feel egotistical. Writing for an organization uses my abilities for the greater good, rather than for self-promotion. I have penned reports, solicitations, grant applications, social media content, newsletters and scripts but I have never attached my name to any of them. While I enjoy the return on a good solicitation letter, being awarded a grant from an application, or seeing the video from a script I drafted posted online, I rarely feel passion about the stories others want me to tell.

I intend to use my master’s coursework to practice my craft, create good habits around writing and revision, and learn to trust my own expertise and what I can share with the world. I look forward to evolving my voice(s) across different personal and professional platforms while still holding true to my values of honesty and integrity.


Original painting is “La Lettre” by Paul-César Helleu, 1880.

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