If you want to start writing, start reading. Read as much as you possibly can. Read between classes and at stoplights and late at night when you should be tucked under your comforter. Read when you’re brushing your teeth and eating lunch and on the train, and aloud to somebody you love. Read so you can learn what words stir your heart and make it race and stop and skip. Read so you can understand what makes writing good, really good, not just “okay” or “decent”. Read so you can be the very best writer possible.
If you want to start writing, start watching. See how she walks, how he talks, how her eyes don’t smile when her lips spread across her teeth. How he can’t look you in the eye when he talks, how she murmurs like she’s not sure if she should be speaking. How his eyes twinkle when he looks at her. How her cheeks turn pink when she says his name. How bright the stars are on some nights and the way the wind gets furious during a snowstorm. How everybody wears the same clothes and nobody wants to stand out. How cities glitter at night and almost everyone has pain in their eyes.
If you want to start writing, start listening. Listen to the streets, cars honking and trains storming by. Listen to the music they play in elevators and coffee shops and grocery stores. Listen to the silences, especially the awkward ones. Listen to the tinkle in her laugh, the bass in his chuckle. Listen to the world creak and groan as it turns on its axis every day, without fail. Listen to the wind rustle in the trees, the howls of wolves in the distance, the wildness all around us and in us.
If you want to start writing, start asking. Pursue the things you used to accept without another thought. Ask about that comment that left you confused. Ask yourself those tough questions, the ones that other people might not be asking. You don’t need their nod of approval to dig up the fossils – that’s up to you.
If you want to start writing, start feeling. Loosen that death grip on your heart and let it move around a little. Let it ache and float, sting and burn. Start letting the joy take it over, and if that means letting the grief drown you first, so be it. Let your heart out of the prison you’ve kept it in and pin it to your shirt for a little while. Air it out and let the world see it, and watch what happens.
If you want to start writing, stop waiting. Stop waiting for the day when you’re going to have it all together, for the day when you have all the answers. You won’t. You never will. Stop waiting for someone to tell you you’re good enough or wise enough or funny enough or talented enough. Good writers aren’t born good writers, good writers become good writers because they write. You’re never going to be a good writer if you sit around, waiting for the day you become one.
If you want to start writing, pull out a piece of paper or a Word document and type a word. Just one word, any word.
Look now, you’ve already started.