In what could have been described as a clandestine meeting, a good friend stopped by tonight to merely exchange a handful of cash for two spots in my football pool. We hadn’t seen each other in a while and we fell easily into a comfortable conversation about our writing. He is currently writing a novel as well and we both have been challenged with individual hurdles and brick walls in the process.
During our conversation he reminded me of a very basic rule that I had long forgotten. Writing is not about grammar. It is not about punctuation, capitalization or italics. Writing is very simply about storytelling.
Deep down, we both know that being able to creatively express our ideas is the basis for the passion we both have for writing. Being able to use words to introduce characters, describe beautiful imagery or construct interesting dialogue deserves more of our focus than moving commas, changing adjectives or repositioning quotation marks.
There are companies specifically formed to pick out those common mistakes that writers make in the moments they become truly lost in the story. That is their gift, their job. A writer needs to remember that his or her gift, his or her job, is creativity – the gift of being able to weave a tale like no other because that story comes from a magical well to which nobody else has access.
The writing is about those ideas that swirl around in our heads at 4:00 am and relentlessly linger until we write them down or record them on the closest available device. The writing is about those characters gnawing at our consciousness until we give them a voice, until we tell their story.
We both need to realize that our gift is that story deep within us. And the sooner we stop spending time worrying about how to properly punctuate a sentence we wrote six months ago, the sooner we can free our brains to let that story loose and see where the journey will take us.