Develop a writing routine

“I have a great story, but I’m just not a Writer!” | Kris With a K | Writing Coach

Kris Windley

Kris is a writer, editor, illustrator, teacher, mother of two amazing young ladies - and enthusiastic cat-belly snuggler. A certified teacher, long-time blogger and experienced brand consultant, she writes about Writing, Business and Blogging...and sometimes about Changing the World.
KrisWindley2020

Kris Windley

Kris is a writer, editor, illustrator, teacher, mother of two amazing young ladies - and enthusiastic cat-belly snuggler. A certified teacher, long-time blogger and experienced brand consultant, she writes about Writing, Business and Blogging...and sometimes about Changing the World.

But I'm not a writer | Blog Post Image | WriteYourVoice | With a K WritingI’ve heard this from too many intelligent, well-spoken women over the years.

And it drives me bonkers, because you ARE a writer. You may not be a professional writer; you may not even be a proficient writer (yet), but you are a writer.

Writing is simply the act of communicating with words on purpose. The rules and tricks and process that will take you from that to being a great writer are totally learnable. If you can think and speak, you can be a writer.

So what are you really saying when you tell me you aren’t a “Writer”?

You’re saying that you aren’t a pro – that magic fairy pixie dust didn’t hit your notebook and pens while you slept, and that writing is hard for you. You’re saying that you aren’t ready for people to expect writerly things from you all the time, and you’re saying that you aren’t perfect.

Fair. I’m not either, kitten.

I make mistakes all the time! I make spelling and grammar errors; I miss typos and autocorrect goofs, and I miss blog deadlines. I’m not perfect, but I AM a writer. I’m also learning all the time, because learning is my jam!

Finding and embracing opportunities to learn new things makes me feel really good, and I value it highly in everything I do, though I haven’t always embodied that value system in my own actions…but more on that later.

For now, let’s focus on Writing, shall we? 

I don’t want you to compare yourself to me, because even though I make mistakes, I am a professional. I’ve been at this writing-game for a while.

I’ve had years of experience, education and training to be a writer and an educator, and writing happens to be something that comes relatively easy to me compared to…say…dodgeball, or accounting.

And comparing your skills in any area to a professional (or experienced or talented amateur) in that area, is just not fair. It poisons your learning process and shuts down your growth.

There’s a quote I like on Pinterest. I’ve seen it attributed to Kelly Clark Lewis more often than other names…but these things are hard to be certain about, and it warns about this comparison poisoning thing really well.

Don’t compare your Chapter 1 to someone else’s Chapter 20.

Regardless of who actually said it first, or what Chapter 20 you’re secretly dreaming about, the meaning behind those words is very powerful.

If you compare yourself to someone else who has been struggling along the same road as you for a longer time, you’ll fall short.

If you compare yourself now to yourself later, you’ll fall short.

And when you fall short, you give up. That’s when you feel the need to say, “I’m just not a writer” so that you can stop disappointing your totally unfair expectations and avoid facing the thing that’s hard. You can give up that way, and hide behind it – using it like a shield of mediocrity.

Click to Tweet: You’re not a mediocre person – you’re a beginner! Embrace it, find freedom in it, and use it as an opportunity to grow.

There it is, kitten. Let your beginning be a beginning. It may seem counter-intuitive, but the sooner you embrace your beginner-ness, the sooner you will feel the freedom of it and start to grow into less of a beginner.

I’m going to level with you. I have a major issue with this myself, and it’s destroyed opportunities that I’ve had to learn and grow.

STORYTIME!

When I was in high school, my boyfriend was a cowboy. I’m not kidding; I dated a guy whose family owns a large and successful horse ranch in the country. He was a legit cowboy…he had the hat and boots to prove it, and his summer job was “breaking stallions”.

I didn’t know anything about horses, myself.

My family was a first-generation “from away” family, so we didn’t have the country-kid background that a lot of my classmates had.

My dad was born and raised in Toronto. His dad worked on the railroad before him, and dad is now a retired engineer and college instructor. My mum is a retired school-teacher from suburban Nova Scotia, and her mum was a travel agent in the age when women didn’t tend to travel the world alone or have professional careers.

They weren’t farmers or horse-ranchers.

While I was dating the cowboy, I turned down learning opportunities over and over…because I didn’t want to be a beginner.

He offered to take me out on the beautiful coastal trails on his family’s ranch. He offered to teach me all about the wonderful animals his family lived with and cared for. He offered me an entirely new perspective on my home, and a window into the care and understanding of an animal I will forever be intrigued by.

And I turned him down. Again and again and again, I said no to these opportunities for learning and growth, because “I’m just not really a horse-person”.

WHAT? Who’s not a horse person?! They are beautiful and mysterious and everyone secretly wants to ride off into the sunset on one. I was full of crap, and I was making excuses.

In reality, I was scared. I didn’t want to show my beginner-ness to him, and as a result I am still a beginner. Worse? I’m not even a beginner; I’m a non-starter. If I had sucked up my pride and just let him see me not knowing, I would be better for it.

I turned away from learning out of pride and fear of failure.

And it’s a HUGE regret.

If you learn anything from this story, learn this:

Click to Tweet: There is absolutely NO shame in being a beginner. There is shame only in never beginning.

If you have a story or a message to share, you have to start somewhere. You have to let yourself be a beginner and start to learn and practise the skills that are the foundation of the craft of Writing.

Then, and only then, you can grow. You can work through your beginner-ness and find your Voice in your own experiences, personality and personal writing process.

And you can start to call yourself what I know you are about to become: A Writer.

Comment below about a time you’ve been afraid of being a beginner or a learning opportunity you’ve missed out of fear or pride OR tell us how you shake that pride and jump into learning a new thing.

xo

Kris With a K | Writing Coach

You mad? Excited? Have a perspective to share? Please do!

17 Comments

  1. Sabrina on July 4, 2017 at 9:35 pm

    Just came across your blog post (two years later) but I just wanted to let you know it’s exactly what I needed to hear—er, I mean, read! I used to write for hours at a time, and would awaken each morning with fresh story ideas that I couldn’t wait to get down on paper, using my mom’s old Royal typewriter! I was an adolescent back then, and my stories were only for myself and were deeply personal. Because no one was critiquing my work, it was easy to be fearless. Then, something happened, and teenage concerns took precedence over my beloved hobby. I’m trying to find that young, courageous storyteller again, I hope she hasn’t given up on me yet…it’s been a very long time since we collaborated on anything truly meaningful. But the quote “There is no shame in being a beginner. There is shame only in not beginning” really hit home, and so I am determined to try. Thank you. 🙂

    • KrisWithaK on July 4, 2017 at 10:48 pm

      Oh Sabrina!

      Thank you so much for this, and really really it’s the best time for me to hear it. I’ve been writing a lot of things about business and marketing and other important but not my true passion kind of things.

      So I haven’t loved it as much, and I’ve been slacking off.

      I’m now sure that I want to go back to these things I love to write about, and even more today because of this comment from you and your teenaged-self collaborator.

      So thank you!

      xo
      Kris

  2. Ann-Marie on April 16, 2015 at 8:58 pm

    This reminds me of a conversation I have been having with a very old friend over on LinkedIn this week. He posted this saying – “The ship you’re waiting for to come in may very well be the ship you need to build”. This reminded me of my most favourite saying (it was my quote in my high school graduation yearbook) – “A ship is safe in harbour but that is not what ships are for”. The conversation has evolved into a discussion of whether it would be prudent to check the weather before you set sail or whether you need to check your boat for woodworm. And my instant response was “No!”. You just have to have faith in your boat and set sail. And if you are a beginner sailor, or the weather conditions throw up unexpected challenges, then you just need to keep learning and exploring further. And you know, I really think this has become easier as I get older – I care a lot less about what other people think about my boat these days 😉

    • KrisWithaK on April 16, 2015 at 9:02 pm

      Hahaha – well Ann-Marie, I might check for woodworm, or sail close to shore at first, but learn to sail by sailing for sure 🙂

      I love that quote too! I’m going to jot it down in my notebook for future reference, because it’s totally true! You’ve got a boat; you should be sailing it.

      xo
      K

  3. richelle on April 15, 2015 at 4:15 pm

    Awesome post, K-Dub!!
    I don’t mind being a beginner because i really love to try new things. But if I am not really good at something right away, it’s hard for me to push past that. I am trying to get better at sticking with stuff when i am not a “natural”. Not trying is lame, but trying & giving up right away because you are not instantly amazing at it isn’t that much better. So I am working on that.
    One chip at a time til the bag is empty!! 😉

    xo,
    rs

    • KrisWithaK on April 16, 2015 at 8:59 am

      Yes! When I’m basically proficient at something when I first begin, I have a hard time pushing past that too. It makes it even harder to admit that I’m a beginner, when my beginning isn’t a disaster 😉

      Thanks Red!
      xo
      K

      PS – mmmmm chips…

  4. Rori Jensen on April 15, 2015 at 10:25 am

    Kris, thanks for this post and my “perfectionism” side of me needed to hear your words! I get so paralyzed by fear because I don’t know how to do something…a beginner, and I just don’t do it! We all have to start somewhere and, “So what!” if we make a mistake. Learn from it and move on. Newsletter/blog…here I come!

    • KrisWithaK on April 15, 2015 at 12:38 pm

      I love that Rori!
      Come back and give us a link to check out your blog when you get it up and running. We want to cheer you on!
      xo
      K

  5. Nalana on April 14, 2015 at 8:50 pm

    Oh, wow! Such true words! Being a beginner at anything is so scary. Your story about the cowboy hits home with me in my own life and the fear that has kept me from trying new things. I’m slowly getting better at it. I am stretching myself in my business – writing on my blog is a big stretch! 😉 But I’m also working on my personal “stuff” too and that’s just as exciting/scary.

    • KrisWithaK on April 15, 2015 at 9:00 am

      Stretching is SO good for you, Nalana.

      In yoga or in learning 😉

      Blog writing can be super scary, but it’s totally ok to be a beginner online. That’s one of my favourite things about starting a blog: you can start where you are and work toward your goals without any editors or bosses telling you it’s not good enough.

      Go for it! I can’t wait to see how it goes 🙂

      xo
      K

  6. Nela on April 14, 2015 at 7:42 pm

    Hah, do I hate being a beginner… But just last week I’ve been making that exact same point, except referring to business & technology 🙂

    I’m more in the “I’m not sure I really have a story” camp, though. I admire people who can make the everyday interesting, but I feel like I’m really far from that.

    No cowboys or airport anecdotes for me! 🙂

    • KrisWithaK on April 15, 2015 at 8:59 am

      Hahaha – I bet you have some great anecdotes in there, Nela.

      There is great power in seeing the details of life, and then magic in relating those normal bits to the big ideas you want to convey. It’s a process, and I bet you could totally nail it with some practice.

      Start with one anecdote – find something small that happened to you that helped you to learn something big…and talk about it a little.

      That’s storytelling 101. Now, BEGIN! 🙂

      xo
      K

      • Nela on April 16, 2015 at 10:36 pm

        Thanks for the tip, I’ll practice it in my journal and see how it goes 🙂



  7. Trish on April 14, 2015 at 6:42 pm

    Yes, yes, yes!! I’ve always loved writing. Essay questions were my fav! {Nerd alert there!}

    Tennis was hard as a beginner. A friend kept hounding me to go & I kept saying no. My excuses were no time, didn’t look good in the dang tennis skirt, I have kids, don’t want to borrow a racquet, etc. She kept asking & I finally agreed to ONE class to get her off my back. I felt like an idiot & I felt silly, but I fell in love with it! I’m still playing several years later & am sooooo thankful I finally pushed the fear aside. Tennis has honestly become what keeps this busy working momma sane!

    • KrisWithaK on April 15, 2015 at 8:56 am

      I LOVE that story, Trish! Being willing to feel silly and look like an idiot = new lifelong sanity fix 🙂

      xo
      K

  8. Sarah Shotts on April 14, 2015 at 4:19 pm

    Great post Kris! I dream of being able to use beautiful brush lettering on my site alongside my watercolors. But I’ll have to be a beginner first. 🙂 It’s something I really want to try once I can carve out enough time to do so, but I know it will take a lot of practice to be able to master the craft.

    • KrisWithaK on April 15, 2015 at 8:55 am

      Ohhh! That would be beautiful, Sarah!

      I look forward to watching you go from beginner to fancy-pants 🙂

      xo
      K

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