24 October 2012

What I know about writing


Writing can give me immense happiness and pleasure and also terrible performance anxiety. I love creating something beautiful with words. I like knowing that I have the power to shape the way people - my readers - think. My readers. I like that I have readers. It's a privilege.

There's a sense of confidence you need as a writer. You need to be brave enough to get the words out of your mind and onto the screen, and braver still to share it with the world. And you need to believe in yourself to keep going. Because everyone's an editor.

I'm often scared of starting a piece of writing. Usually scared about writing something for someone else. What if it's not good enough? Performance anxiety. I have to remind myself that in the end, it doesn't matter and that although everyone's an editor, I am always writing for myself. I think about the perfection versus excellence discussion I once had.

Writing is often a journey that leaves me breathless and teary, like I've just run a marathon. It can hurt but it always heals. It clears my mind and makes sense of situations, often ones of the heart. There's always someone somewhere reading my thoughts that has some empathy.

I can tell the world everything yet tell a person nothing. And I am comfortable with that.

I worry about revealing too much. But often the best pieces I have written are the ones where I am vulnerable and a little bit sad. I can feel my readers reaching for my hand to hold. People know so much about me. I forget that sometimes.

Sometimes I tell people that I love them through writing. Indirectly of course. It's safer that way. It's love from a distance. They can read my words if they want to.

I fall in love with writing. Good lyricists and boys who can spell. Bloggers. Journalists. Novelists. I want to know good writers better. I drink up their lessons they're inadvertently giving. I want to be as good as them.

I'm not very good at using a pen anymore. While I take pride in the words that tumble their way from my mind to the page, my handwriting suggests otherwise. I make notes in my iPhone. I write from my iPad and MacBook. Not a day goes by when I don't jot an idea down. I have more than one serve of Apple a day.

Writing runs in my family. My father. My grandfather. His father. His grandfather. It's nice to be tied to my heritage through the written word.

I want to make people think, but I don't want to rock the boat. I want to row gently. But then I know I should write something that scares even myself. One day.

The Internet is the reason I write, and the reason I don't. I'm usually not writing because I'm reading others' writing online. I am good at procrastinating, but it's purposeful procrastination. I've developed a sense of identity because of blogging. My thesis findings told me so. I've come out of my shell and found my tribe. Blogging has created such a sense of community. These friends I talk to on the Internet, they are real. I have met friends because we have connected through words.

I used to write poetry. It was hidden in ring-bound notebooks. It was lonely, love lost, naively sexual, and very much inspired by Silverchair's Neon Ballroom. Now I've found myself, I no longer write true poetry. But I hope there is some poetry among the words I write here and elsewhere.

I find it a good challenge to switch between corporate and academic writing, and writing here and elsewhere in my own voice. I felt like I had broken ground by writing a 10,000 word thesis about new media in a conversational tone. And received a high distinction.

In my day job I am a stickler for writing rules. Style guides, font, colours, plain English. But here there are only self imposed rules - good spelling and interesting content. I like that blogging allows me to employ the skills I learnt in journalism studies yet gives me the freedom to start a sentence with And.

One day I'd like to write something really intricate, like a literary version of lacework or leadlight. Something to make readers gasp and leave their hearts pounding and breathless - like the writing process - and other writers - left me. For now I'm just aiming to throw my words like glitter into the universe and hope someone catches them. And enjoys them.

This is a first in Sarah Wayland's fortnightly 'What I know about..'. series. If you want to join in, follow her Facebook for the prompts.


  1. I've been following you since your birthday, last year, and I always look forward to your posts. Through you I've had a window into "the other side of the world" and now I celebrate Spring with you while it's Fall here in New York. I've learned about icthyosis, and now I follow Baby Brenna's journey as well.

    I like your posts about food and trips, and "fun stuff" like concert reviews.

    But what I truly love is when you go deep, when you reveal your inner self, as it sings to me across years and miles. Keep writing and I'll keep reading.

    1. Cheryl that is such a lovely thing that you said. Thank you so much x

  2. Beautiful post, Carly. Summed up a lot of how I feel about writing, too :)

  3. Beautiful final words especially :) & this "a literary version of lacework" - love.
    Heidi xo

  4. I love reading your writing Carly, you write so well. And can totally relate to what you said about your handwriting too. Mine is dreadful now. Hope you're well x

  5. You have a gift. Truly. Can't wait to read your human brochure posts.

  6. Writing lacework...what a beautiful concept Carly. Its funny Ive spent three full days immersed in academic writing where people actually presented ideas about the science of sentence structure. I find THAT panic inducing, the part where I get to weave what I want. That is the amazing stuff!

  7. Blog writing is like therapy isn't it? I've discovered that.

  8. I sometimes wonder if it is actually the things that life throws at us, that gives us the desire and words to express ourselves. I have just discovered your blog through blog school and I am glad that you are brave enough to share your difficulties. I also wonder if I give too much away about my own illness but I think it's only possible to put all the pieces together by reading regularly. I would love to learn from your courage and be in your tribe

  9. You write this beautifully Carly.
    I too fall in love with beautiful writing - lyrics, fiction, blogs.
    And you are so right, writing is all about confidence. x

  10. Beatific post. I am terrified of writing and I always have been. I wouldn't even write a shopping list for my husband because I was scared he would see it, realized I wasn't as clever as he thought and have to find someone that was. Pretty silly. Now I write and anyone can read it. I still hope that he doesn't. Rachel xx


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