‘Creative’ is not a noun…Lots of people want to be the noun without doing the verb. They want the job title, not the work.”Austin Kleon, Keep Going
I read Chapter 3 of Kleon’s latest book this morning and it stopped me in my tracks.
Not because I didn’t know and understand what he said.
I have, after all, made a name for myself as the person who entices writers to actually write during May & September every year.
But because it made me wonder: am I actually doing the verb?
What Do You Do All Day?
Austin Kleon, in this short chapter in his short book, says if you focus on ‘being’ the job title, you might focus on the wrong things.
You might have cool glasses and a bunch of writer friends, but will you write?
If you focus on the noun, you may feel constrained to do the work in a certain way.
If you say you are a short story writer, what if you want to write a poem today? Is that allowed?
But if you simply say, “I write” you can focus on the work, however it comes out.
Do The Verb
Job titles aren’t really for you, they’re for others. Let other people worry about them. Burn your business cards if you have to.Austin Kleon, Keep Going
We often struggle with saying “I’m a writer” because it sounds so much like a job title.
If we’re not making a living from our writing (and very, very few people do, especially not from creative writing), then it can be hard to say “I’m a writer”.
And that’s why I love Austin Kleon’s reframing of this.
A Slightly Scary Question
What if, instead of “I’m a writer”, we just said, “I write”?
I recently updated the StoryADay logo, and I was thinking about getting new business cards. After reading Austin Kleon’s comments, I was apprehensive.
What I would I put on my new cards, If I was being honest? What do I spend my time doing?
Julie Duffy: I answer emails (Bad)
Julie Duffy: I help other writers be more productive (Better).
Or do I have the courage to put, on my business card:
Julie Duffy: I write
Would that remind me to keep my daily promise that I will write creatively for the first 30 minutes of any working day? Not answer emails? Not fix things at StoryADay? Not find 1001 things that need to be done before I’m allowed to write?
Could You Say “I Write”?
- Next time someone asks you what you do, could you say, “I write”?
(Even if you have to say, “I sell cars for a living, but really? I write.”)
- Now that the StoryaDay May challenge is over, would it be true?
- What would it take for us to be able to say that, without fear?
We’d have to commit to actually writing. (Not every day, perhaps, but certainly not ‘some day’!)
We’d have to do the work, play with words, allow ourselves to love it, no matter what.
And that doesn’t sound so bad, does it?
What will you do, today, to make sure you are doing the verb, not trying to be the noun?
What’s the next, smallest step you must take to be able to say “I write”? Get the free Keep Writing Workbook, to help you figure it out!