I’m learning writing is contagious to other writers. I suppose I have always been aware of this phenomenon since I tend to get inspired by being around other writers. This time I’m on the other side of the equation.
It’s probably more accurate to say enthusiasm is the infectious factor. I’ve seen my excitement about stories affect others before but those were people who were already writers. Each simply needed a nudge, a little encouragement and perhaps a bit of happy writerly vibes.
Today I had a different experience. There is a man I previously worked with who now works at my regular writing spot.
I see this guy almost every time I go out to write and we always say hi in passing. A few weeks ago he stopped me and asked what it was I did all the times he saw me. I told him I was writing a book and it was often too distracting to write at home.
His eyes lit up. He told me he wanted to write, but complained he didn’t have much time. I later learned he also didn’t have much discipline. He wasn’t writing at all but really wanted to. From that day on I gave him little tips and subtle encouragement. Maybe it was guilt because in the three years I worked with him I never knew he wanted to write. More likely it was just me being me and wanting to reach out to someone who needed help.
It’s hard when you have no faith in your ability to do something you dream about. Passion is destructive if not channeled. I could hardly bear seeing someone ripping himself apart the same way I had.
I started with telling him to carry a little notebook with him at all times and if he couldn’t or forgot to pick up a napkin and write anything that came to him. He was startled at this and told me he always carried one with him years ago but got out of the habit. A couple of days later he had one in his pocket.
I really concentrated on throwing on tips on sneaking in writing. If you read this blog regularly, you know I’m all about writing in short bursts if it’s the only time you have!
As the weeks went on he would occasionally wave me over and tell me about something he wrote. Today he showed me a note on a napkin. I was so proud of him! It was in this moment I realized talking to me about writing was really helping him. It’s a slow process because in my opinion he’s still assailed by fear (we’ve talked about what fear did to me too). The important thing is he’s writing!
I didn’t do anything but tell him what I went through, encourage him, and throw out a few tips. He took it from there and I hope he flies with it.
It’s so sad when frightened writers aren’t able to be around other writers. This man is twenty years older than me and he’s only now getting to the point where the fear isn’t stopping him. Our conversations are never more than five minutes, most of them have been maybe half that but it was the push he needed.
If you are a writer and know someone who wants to be the same, help them. Even a few quick words of reassurance or pointing them to a great website with tips can make a huge difference in their life.