Years ago I interviewed a hockey coach on the cusp of a playoff run.Most of his players were in their first or second year with the team and didn’t have any playoff experience. I asked the coach if this concerned him.
He said something to the effect of: “Sometimes it’s better if you don’t know what you don’t know. And when you’re as young as they are, you don’t.”
The same principle applies to writing.
If you’re just starting out, with no clear idea of what you’re doing, it’s not a bad thing.
You’ll foul things up in a million different ways, but as you go, you’ll find yourself.
You’ll find your voice.
You’ll find out if writing is something you really want to do.
And if you keep going you’ll get better, because that’s how it works.
Being a writer takes both hubris and humility. It means being bold enough to put your words into the world, and willing to take criticism from editors and readers.
It’s still the best job/hobby/calling you can possibly have, as far as I’m concerned.
So if you’re reading this and you’re young, unsure if you should be doing this thing you long to do, let me assure you:
Yes. You should be doing it. If this is what you want to do, give it a try.
Writing empowers us in ways we can’t fathom until we start experimenting with it.
It gives us control over our own narratives. It helps us work through ideas in ways we can’t in conversation, or in a university seminar.
Writing is the thing we must do, if we’re compelled to do it at all.
And sometimes it’s best not to know any better.