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The Repercussions of a Word Smith

14 Jan

broken pen inkI didn’t always have the gift of the golden pen. At least I never considered myself as anything but an average writer throughout my earlier years. I would do the assignments asked of me in school, but rarely did I earn high marks or a place on the honor board for my work. Outside of the classroom, I wrote silly poems and experimented with “novel” writing, but I’m sure if I could find these journals now I wouldn’t be inclined to ship them off to a publisher. However, at some point during the awkward years between Junior High and Senior High school, a much deeper physical transition took place. Somewhere in my brain, the part for creativity and the part for words finally synched.

We all look forward to the point in our life when we tap into a natural talent. Raw and uncharted, we anxiously explore its depths and push its boundaries. For some this is football, piano, dancing or math. For me this was writing. Though I had always earned good grades, this was the first time that writing courses were almost effortless. It seemed unfair that though I scored about the same in my math and science classes, I had to put in so much more effort and time to do so. The thrill I got out of writing is the reason I continued to make it an integral part my college major and the career I now enjoy. As my passion for both written and oral communication became clear, all other subjects blurred into the background.

As I’ve grown to accept this as my given talent, I’ve also realized some curiously common situations that seem to unfold for most gifted writers I know. I see these as the “repercussions” of a word smith. Really it’s a small price to pay for a talent that is useful in almost every line of work. But whether you’re a fellow writer or someone who has benefited from knowing one, I’m willing to bet these sound very familiar:

Group projects somehow bear only your writing – Group projects are already miserable for so many reasons, but when you’re identified as a “good writer” they become even worse. No matter how hard I tried to prevent this from happening, the end result was inevitable. I would either have to start the project from scratch or rework the less than stellar writing of my group partners. By the end of it, the writing always seemed to be my own. Sometimes this was me being taken advantage of, sometimes this was for the good of the group (and our group grade), but sometimes this was just me being a writing control freak. I can admit it…finally.

You’re the go-to “first drafter” – With my school days now behind me, the repercussions of a wordsmith have still kept in tow. Rather than the finisher for group projects, I have now become the go-to person for taking the first stab at letters, short bios, resumes and blog posts for family and friends. I’m always happy to offer my two cents, but creating something from scratch requires a bit more energy and effort than just two pennies worth of my time. As you might expect a dentist to get tired of hearing about tooth ailments on the weekend, writers also like to be just people from time to time.

Heck, you’re the go-to “final drafter” too – Though revising a final draft takes a different set of skills than the initial writing of one, it still requires a good deal of energy and effort if you want to do it right. Sure I can quickly review a document to make sure the I’s are dotted and the T’s crossed, but it’s hard to tone down a skill set that, when used for my livelihood, is kept at high octane. If I see a poorly written letter, I can’t not fix it. I’ll sit there and pour hours of my life into a document I shouldn’t have more concern over than that piece of chewing gum I just threw away. But when you’re passionate about something, you do. When you ask your writer friend for a “quick once over,” just remember that he’ll give you the same quality of service that he would give a client or put into his own work. A thoughtful thank you from time goes a long way.

Greeting cards and party invitations get sent your way – Much like the first and final drafter, a wordsmith is also often called in for input on Christmas card phrases, meaningful words for a thank you note and creative rhymes to put on a birthday invite. This is the fun stuff! And personally the stuff I love creating the most. But it can become a burden when you receive these casual requests on top of a pile of mounting client work. Also I tend to put pressure on myself to come up with the most perfectly witty or thoughtful lines – a pressure that is not intended or required, but a habit I’ve developed all on my own.

It becomes seen as an endless fountain of creativity – As I mentioned above, it’s an exciting experience to explore the depths of a new found talent, but I don’t assume it is indeed endless. My hands and mind do get exhausted to a point where eventually I slump into a couch pillow and stare at the wall for a little while during a busy writing day. It’s a compliment to have so many family members and friends turn to me for my opinion and input, but I do feel the need to conserve my creativity or at least let it refill from time to time. After all, what would I do for a living if it somehow ran out?!

I hope these “repercussions” of a word smith have resonated with you in some way or if not, at least made you smile. Though my talent is with words, I know these situations are not unique to writers. I imagine doctors, artists, athletes and politicians all have similar gripes about how their talents have made them feel like a mere resource to the world around them. The best we can each do is to celebrate each other’s talents by not only utilizing them, but also by giving them a day off from time to time.

What are some of the repercussions your own talent has brought you?

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7 Comments

Posted by on January 14, 2013 in Business & Success

 

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7 responses to “The Repercussions of a Word Smith

  1. Hypersonic55

    January 14, 2013 at 9:17 am

    Howdy there, as usual I always find your blogs post to be an insightful and interesting read! I guess I can relate to you in some ways. I love to write and I found in college I had a knack for reviewing and talking about things in an analytical fashion.

    But in terms of some of the repercussions that my own talent has brought me? I’d say it came with my drawing. I’ve been drawing for years and in school and college people would always come to me to draw them something or if we were doing group work loads of my classmates would want me to do the drawing parts. Eventually I had to learn to say no even though I really liked drawing for other people haha. 🙂

     
    • Stephanie Shirley

      January 15, 2013 at 7:40 am

      We’re definitely on the same ‘page’ here (pun intended)! In school I would learn to downplay my writing until put in a position where I knew I had to step forward and help out. I am no artist, so I can relate to the many people who seek your talent.

       
  2. Kasha Stoll

    January 15, 2013 at 9:35 am

    Loved the article! It is so true. Another repercussion is that I cannot read a book, newspaper article or cereal box without wanting to edit.

    And yes, I read cereal boxes. There are words there, and I have to read them.

     
    • Stephanie Shirley

      January 15, 2013 at 12:57 pm

      Oh I know that feeling all too well! I’m certainly not immune to grammar mistakes, but when I see anything with words on it I have to read it and instinctively look for errors or places where I would have written it differently.

       
  3. Colleen Klimczak, CPO

    January 16, 2013 at 1:42 pm

    Just read this, so true! And was just at a meeting this morning where I was again identified as a writer and given first and last stab at writing copy!

     
    • Stephanie Shirley

      January 16, 2013 at 7:47 pm

      Haha sorry to hear the repercussions are stilling hitting you! It’s certainly a compliment, but can also be a burden at times 🙂

       
  4. girlproducer

    January 18, 2013 at 10:27 pm

    I consider myself a wordsmith in some ways but when it comes to writing a long amount that’s different. I can do that easily for fiction writing like a novel or script but that has always eluded me when it came to papers or even blog posts. I always marvel at post like yours with so much to say. Haha I’m like well three short paragraphs… done.

     

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