Girls, get your pens out. Writing will change your professional life, your love life, and your financial life. And if nothing else, it might just get you a date with Harry Styles.
Let me explain.
I have a day job that has nothing to do with writing. I’ve made very little money off the writing I have published, and I’ve had hundreds of literary pieces rejected by editors worldwide. In fact, I am posting this column on my own personal Word Press blog since it has been shunned over a dozen times by major publications. Regardless, I feel strongly that it needs to be printed. Writing can change your life. Take it from me.
Let me start with how writing has changed my professional life. As I mentioned, writing is not my primary source of income. Yet, my ability to manipulate the written word has catapulted my career. For example, a thoughtful and well-crafted thank you note scored me an invitation to a very exclusive networking event. A well-organized report propelled me to a chair position on an important professional committee. And I don’t embarrass myself with poorly written email correspondence, most of the time. (I once signed off an email to a colleague with “Breast wishes, Becky.” Whoopsie.)
And, writing is the reason I got married this past September. You may not believe this, but without an ability to craft a funny email, I would most likely still be sitting on a bar stool, chatting up match.com men. My fiance and I dated long distance for three years. The only thing we had to keep our love alive were love letters. My incredibly educated, horrendously handsome husband fell in love with average ol’ me because of our communication. Not because of a particular outfit. (L.L.Bean boots and middle school sweaters are my uniform.) Not because of the way I look. (My refusal to go to a salon has caused breakups.) But, instead he fell in love with me because of the way I could make him laugh over daily email. (Dear Jamal, I love you more than land mines. And they’re the bomb.)
And lastly, my love for writing has scored me lots of really nice stuff. A few years ago, I won a short story contest in a travel magazine, and won an all-expense paid trip to Tahiti. Tahiti! Writing literally paid for me to go snorkeling with sting rays. And, I have won contests for all sorts of beauty products. Last year, I won a supply of high-end (and very expensive) sunscreen. (I barely touched the stuff because I live in the land of gray skies and freezing temperatures, but it made my Floridan friends happy.) I’ve also won flower bouquets, gift certificates to fancy restaurants, designer beach towels, a ski trip to Quebec City, and a year’s supply of Special K cereal. Oh, and did I mention Tahiti? I did. Oh good.
Things weren’t always this way. The first thing I wrote was dreadful. Inspired by a music class in fourth grade, I wrote lyrics to a song which I thought would be Debbie Gibson’s next hit. It was called “All American Girl” and it made no sense whatsoever. (Looking back, it was somewhat of a rip-off of both Tom Petty’s “American Girl” and David Bowie’s “Young Americans.”) But I had fun writing it. And when my little sister started singing it around the house, I knew I was on to something. (If Molly liked something, then I knew it was valuable.)
From there, I started writing all sorts of things. Poems. Diary entries about teachers I didn’t like. Fan mail to Candace Cameron (D.J. on Full House) who I idolized. Stories about leprechauns. (Yes, I went through a leprechaun phase. It was weird.)
But my writing really developed when I discovered a boy band. The New Kids on the Block were young, good-looking, and everywhere. (You could buy New Kids bedsheets, bath towels, posters, dolls, etc., and I had them all. My bedroom looked like a museum to hair-sprayed boys.) The youngest member, Joe McIntyre, was the cutest boy I had ever seen in my life. Naturally, I thought I should write Joe a letter and introduce myself. According to my plan, he would be so taken by my letter, he would come to Jefferson, New Jersey, sweep me off my feet, and marry me. It was a perfect plan. I just needed to write the perfect letter.
So, I went to work. I crafted and re-crafted the perfect note with a flashlight under my sheets after bedtime. I crossed out sentences, and re-wrote full lines, carefully choosing my words. Love, Becky? (Too desperate.) Sincerely, Becky? (Too formal.) Smiles, Becky? (Just right.) And when I finished one letter, I would start writing another.
Out of the hundreds of letters I wrote, I only mailed about a dozen. Considering I sent them to only address I could find (a talent agency in California), I’m pretty sure that Joey never received them. But looking back, those countless letters made me a better writer. I might not have won the heart of a New Kid, but I certainly gained a love for the written word.
So, girls, find your motivation wherever it lives. Write not because you want to write the Great American Novel…but because you want to ask someone special to the prom. Write because you really, really want to convince your school board to allow foreign exchange programs to Italy just so you can taste real gelato. Write because you want to tell Grandma Mabel how much you love her. Write because someday your diary might be a relic in the National History Museum. Write because you might win a lifetime supply of cheesecake-flavored chapstick. Write because there is a because…whatever it may be. Writing can and will change your life if you stick to it.
And there’s no better way of sticking to it than writing to Harry Styles. By the time you find the perfect words, he’ll be balding and you’ll be a Pulitzer Prize winner. And at that point, you probably won’t have time for him.