Reflections on writing and what it takes to master it
In 2008, you could find me -a fourteen-year-old- in the backseat of my mothers car singing at the top of my lungs: “But you don’t have to call anymore, I won’t pick up the phone. This is the last straw don’t wanna hurt anymore”, verses of a tear-jerking song about someone letting you down. Did I relate to the lyrics? Definitely not, but I could totally feel Taylor Swift’s pain. As Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s Sergeant Terry Jeffords says: “She makes all of us feel things!”
I have always been drawn to words. I enjoy them and the possibilities they offer. I also find pleasure in beautifully written texts. The sad thing is, I can’t write those texts myself.
This is me trying
So, here is an -ancient- discovery: Listening to Taylor’s music, knowing every metaphor she uses, and wanting to scream at the end of The Last Great American Dynasty (She bought the house! She is the loud woman now!) does not make me a better writer. Sad Beautiful Tragic, I know. Enjoying someone’s writing can inspire me, but I actually have to practice. (My millennial body shivers).
So here I am, clumsily writing about how I want my texts to sound poetic.
The lucky one
Am I crazy to compare my writing to Taylors’? A woman honored by the Songwriters Hall of Fame and the youngest person included on Rolling Stone’s list of the 100 Greatest Songwriters of All Time? I don’t think so.
I don’t believe she was born with it. Every skill, such as writing, is developed through practice. I used to be impressed by Taylor’s lyrics without taking into consideration what she went through to be able to write them. I was making assumptions about what it takes to succeed. As I wrote, my words weren’t expressing my ideas as “poetically” as I wanted because I was writing sporadically. You won’t be surprised to know I was frustrated.
Writing beautifully does not require an innate talent to write in rhyme, it requires perseverance. The potent and mocking virtue that only those who know its powers possess.
This is why we can’t have nice things
I’m an avid reader. I have read the Brontës, Wilde, Tolstoi, Woolf, Dickens, and many more. And I still think Swift’s writing is impeccable. It is so rare during our times to have an artist master such a wide variety of music genres with the impact Taylor has.
Of course, she is not the only living person whose writing I enjoy. But her work is one of the few with which I think: “I wish I had written that!”. The truth is, I’m not writing in what I consider a beautiful and poetic style because I haven’t developed a habit of constant practice.
There is work ethic involved, and I was ignoring that fact.
Soon you’ll get better
The best scenario would be the one in which I practice every day and after a few months end up being able to write something people enjoy. Worst case scenario would be the one in which I assume I can’t write like Taylor Swift and never try.
Good writing, I’ve come to realize, it’s not something people master easily. You start by writing something like Stay Beautiful, and fourteen years (and nine albums) later you create something like Ivy. And many things happen in between; Masterpieces like All Too Well and “What-is-this-?!” kind of songs like ME! The thing is, the difference between ordinary and extraordinary is practice. Taylor writes splendidly because she has nine self-written studio albums. I don’t write as well because I have just the wish to write, and nothing to show.
It is probably unfair to compare myself to Taylor Swift because she has several more years of experience than I do. But this comparison is not pointless. Thanks to admiring her abilities I started pushing myself and working on my writing skills. I hope I am persistent enough to face a blank sheet of paper every day and leave a few words on it.
It took me a couple of years, but thanks to Taylor, I have realized that the key to success is consistency.