To Learn You Must First be a Beginner

“You can learn new things at any time in your life if you’re willing to be a beginner. If you actually learn to like being a beginner, the whole world opens up to you.”  Barbara Sher, speaker, Career/Lifestyle coach, and author.

boy in brown hoodie carrying red backpack while walking on dirt road near tall trees
Photo by Pixabay on

When I started my journey to become a writer, I didn’t think of myself as a beginner.  I’ve been around for a while, I have a Masters Degree in Language and Communication, I’m closer to retirement than I like to admit.  I’ve done some wonderful things in my life, have a wonderful family and amazing friends, and I have traveled all over the world.  I feel well worn with experiences and education.  But a beginner?

At first it was hard for me to embrace this concept – that I’m a beginner.  But that’s exactly what I am in the world of writing.  My love of writing does not make me an expert, nor does it make me knowledgeable in the world of authors and publishers.  I thought I could do a little research, take one good class, write a novel, and everything else would fall into place.  This naivete alone is enough to prove that, indeed, I am a beginner.

And there’s nothing wrong with being a beginner.  In fact, coming to this understanding will make me a better student in the world of writing.  Acknowledging that I have a lot to learn and have absolutely no idea what I’m doing is actually quite freeing.  It doesn’t mean I’m a bad writer, but it does mean I could use some guidance and instruction on this path.

I haven’t devoted much time to my writing recently, mostly because I convince myself that it’s too hard, I’m too tired, I’ve got writer’s block, I’m stressed out from work, and more.  Deep down I’m wondering if it’s really worth it for me to pick up a pen, or turn on my laptop, because I feel a bit lost and uncertain.  Just as any beginner would feel taking on any new challenge.  I sprinted from the starting gate because I had guidance through a course I took from Writer’s Digest.  The course gave me writing assignments, feedback, deadlines.  I knew what was required of me.  Then the course ended, and I completed all my assignments.  I slowed to a jog, but continued pursuing guidance from the course to complete my novel and even send out queries.

And then…I slowed down to a leisurely walk.  I wandered off the path.  I sat down to admire the scenery and contemplate life.  I stared at the path and pondered getting up and starting to walk again.  But it suddenly felt hard and the path looked long.  And I wasn’t at all sure what was waiting for me along the way.

pile of assorted novel books
Photo by Min An on

Reading the quote from Barbara Sher opened my eyes.  I’m a beginner.  And it’s hard to be a beginner no matter your age, your experience, or your circumstances. And if I look back at my life, I’ve been a beginner many times. And each time it took hard work, dedication, commitment, and guidance to move past being a beginner.  So once again, I have acknowledge and embrace that I am a beginner. And looking back on other learning experiences, I know I need to have a goal, a path, and resources.  So I’ll start at the beginning once more, and develop some guidelines to help me navigate my way through the learning process. Do I have what it takes to learn and move down the path from beginner to student to author?  I believe I do now.

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