Mastering Music and Writing09:45
Last week I sat my eighth grade piano exam, a harrowing experience that I’m sure has left me with more than a few grey hairs. Eighth grade is one of the more advanced music grades, so you’d think I’d know something about music by now. But the truth is, no matter how long I’ve been learning music for, or how many hours I’ve practiced and studied, I still feel like I have a long way to go and much to learn before I can say I’ve mastered my instrument. Compared to my amazing piano teacher, it feels like I know so very little.
I feel the same way about writing sometimes. I’ve been writing seriously for several years now, and I still sit down to write feeling as if I don’t know what I’m doing or how to make my books as amazing as everyone else’s seem to be. Published writers are way better than me. That person who’s only been writing seriously for three days must know more about writing than I do. There is still so much more for me to learn before I have mastered my craft and be confident in my abilities.
But you know something? My music teachers don’t know everything. My singing teacher has two degrees in music and she still has to look things up and questions her knowledge. My piano teacher has been teaching for years and she still has to check facts and listen to recordings so she knows what to do. None of them, no matter how experienced, know everything there is to know about music. And you know something else? I don’t think published writers know everything there is to know about writing either. Even the greatest writer doesn’t know everything.
Music and writing are two things that you can never truly master. You’re never going to know everything about music, and you’re certainly never going to know everything about writing. There’s just too much to learn. There are no masters of writing. So, if that’s true, does that mean that no one is good at writing? Are we all just bumbling about in the dark knowing nothing about what we’re doing, just making things up?
No, it doesn’t.
What it does mean is that everyone is good enough to write. It doesn’t matter that you’re not published, that you’re not the most experienced person, or that you don’t know as much as some other writer does. You have enough skills to be able to write now. You don’t need to know more, to have more experience, or to be older before you are allowed to write.
My piano teacher is always telling me, ‘You can play this. You just have to believe in yourself.’ If I can play, you can write. Sure, you don’t know everything. You’ll be learning new things about writing for the rest of your life. But you need to believe in yourself. No second guessing your abilities. No putting yourself down because you’re not a master yet. You are able to write just as you, with the amount that you know and the experience that you have. You can write. You just need to believe in yourself.