a letter to you, young writer.

Dear Writer,

You just celebrated your 22nd birthday. You’re set to finish up school in just another month or two, and with major in hand, you’ve declared to yourself and to the world around you that writing is in your bones. When you sit down at your laptop or pull that worn journal out of your bag, a calming happens. Your eyes stare at the blank space before you, but they’re not actually looking at anything in particular. They’re simply giving the rest of your body permission to enter in to the moment, to join in what’s to come. If corneas could breathe, they’re breathing a sigh of relief, for they know that truth and clarity and vision aren’t far behind. And soon, after you let your fingers do the talking, all the different parts of you will heave a collective thank you. Because writing is how you best process and think and communicate not only with your insides, but also with the world around you.

April Killingsworth

And friend, this will never change for you and about you. Always, always you will be on a journey of discovering who you are and how you relate to the world around you through words. Chances are, you’ve always been like this. You remember penning that first story in the third grade, the one about the magical tree house in your backyard. You secretly did a little happy dance when your professor declared she believed not in bi-weekly tests, but end-of-term research papers. To this day, you can’t pass a bookstore without popping in for a glance, a whiff, a refueling to soul. And you know what? The nerd in me applauds the nerd in you because, quite frankly, the world needs more people like us.

So don’t be an astrophysicist when you’re supposed to be a writer. Don’t get your degree in business administration when all your heart wants to do is sit down in the comfy chair, and morph together the already-existent words and phrases and commas making their home in your mind. Don’t make excuses for the gift that’s been birthed within you.

For that’s exactly what it is: a gift.

And you, my friend, have been given the gift of words. So guard it wisely and believe in it steadfastly. Even if you experience rejection. Even if you feel like a failure. Even if you don’t get the shares and the likes and the tweets you think you deserve, because you’re not writing for them. You’re writing for you, you’re writing to honor the gift you’ve been given.

So believe it. Believe it and receive it and relish in after the whirlwind of graduation day sets in, and after doors of opportunity open and close and open again. Remind yourself of your gift when you’ve forgotten it’s there, and when you’ve said yes to other opportunities and jobs – because this is a gift that cannot be returned. Sure, your gift will need a tune-up every once in a while if it’s not properly exercised, but gifts don’t go away. Gifts remain with us, pecking away at our insides until we let them loose, until we set them free.

From one writer to another, I salute thee with words and with phrases and with a shower of effervescent letters galore. The sacred gift in me honors the sacred gift in you – might we not neglect this perfect present.

With love,


So, what about you?  If you’re a writer, young or old, have you acknowledged your GIFT?  Have you applauded the beautiful, perfect, genius way you were created, because it’s YOURS to give the world?  In this with you (and cheering you on).  Also, one last question: can corneas breathe?

9 thoughts on “a letter to you, young writer.

  1. The world offers all types of ways to be a writer, whether it’s someone who publishes one best-seller after another or someone who writes thoughtful notes of encouragement for one person at a time. Be a writer.

  2. Riann graduates from Seattle Univ in June. And now she has decided she wants to be an elementary teacher. Her boyfriend of 5 years has been accepted to UW medical school in the fall. She said that her dad gave her the courage to pursue what she found to be her dream, teaching. …after thinking of graphic arts, nursing, physical therapist….because he decided to pursue his dream of being a photographer. He told corporate America adios a year ago, and loving being a fabulous photographer.

    1. Friend, I LOVE this. I love that Riann’s following her heart, and that your husband did as well. For me, I love that writer can take many different forms, and that it doesn’t always have to mean “author,” at least not yet. But it does mean remembering the gift!

  3. I recently started mailing cards to friends when I’m thinking about them or know they’re going through something especially hard. It’s been good to spend time writing without even the posibility of likes or shares. Only writing to that one person. I’ve also started journaling again, and that’s been good too. It’s been helpful to spend time writing outside of the interent, remembering that I enjoy writing even if it’s just for me or a friend. There’s something that also seems special about this more private, secretive writing.

    1. Kelsey, I think you nailed it: “there’s something that also seems special about this more private, secretive writing.” Lately I’ve been wondering what a disservice being a writer in this technology-infiltrated culture does to my writing, both positively and negatively.

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