Can you draw?
I’m so jealous if you can.
Any Pictionary team with me on it is doomed:
‘What the hell is that, Kim? A humpback hippo? A baby riding on a potato? A loaf of bread with antennae?’
But it’s no surprise. I can only remember being taught art properly one brief time. It was at summer camp in 1989, with my new friend Ingrid (we’d bonded over our love of hot pink sweatbands and contraband Juicy Fruit gum).
Our young teacher (who we both had a raging crush on) patiently showed us how to paint a tree, pressing the brush hard on the paper and then releasing the pressure to create long, tapered branches.
He helped us wash rich reds and oranges across the paper to create an ombré sunset.
He showed us how to create long grey shadows with a soft pencil.
And you know what? I still have that picture. It’s not exactly a masterpiece, but it’s not ‘baby-on-a-potato’ terrible either.
It’s reassuring to know that whilst I’ll never be Banksy, I’m maybe not a hopeless case. With the right tuition and practice, I might have been a reasonable artist.
So, it makes me frustrated when I hear, as I did recently, clients in my writing masterclasses saying;
‘The thing is, Kim, I’m just not a writer.’
People worry that because writing doesn’t come easy to them, they’re doomed forever.
That unless writing blogs, LinkedIn posts or emails feels completely natural, there’s no point even trying.
But here’s the rub: no-one’s born a writer, even Hemingway, Tolstoy or Dostoevsky.
To tell you the truth, when I read my own early blogs and want to crawl under my desk and never come out. Cringe. I was trying too hard to impress. I come across as stiff and corporate and not at all me.
But writing to you every week for the past five years has helped me hone my style and even, as lifestyle gurus might say, ‘step into myself’ (although that phrase makes me feel queasy).
So if you don’t think you’re a writer:
- Get some guidance, like I did from that art teacher. Get stuck in to the free vault of blogs on my website stuffed full of communication and writing tips (lots of marketing, branding and business goodies too.) Gorge yourself. (And yes, you can buy my book, Email Attraction, too if you want to nail those emails.)
- Learn by doing. Just start writing. Get feedback from kind friends or colleagues. And keep going. You learn by making mistakes and fixing them, not by existing in a vacuum. Practise really does make perfect.
Repeat after me: Everyone can be a writer. Especially you.