A writing lesson from Kiersey Clemons

writing lesson
Kiersey Clemons, from her Instagram account

Kiersey Clemons is not a writer; she’s an actress and singer. And although she looks quite fetching in the various outfits InStyle magazine photographed her in for their September 2017 issue, what really caught my attention was a little writing lesson embedded in the interview.

The interviewer notes that Clemons “loves to write.” But:

“I’ll never know if I’m good.”

Why?

“It’s kind of like acting,” she adds. “You don’t know until you do it and people validate you.”

A writing lesson we all need

Yep. You can’t act in a vacuum. I mean, you can but it would feel really cramped. And airless.

If you’re all alone in a room, can you act? Maybe. But I think the more common description of that activity is “talking to yourself.”

You can act onstage without an audience. Generally, that’s called rehearsing. Or maybe filming a movie.

But no matter how much you rehearse, things change once you have an audience. The audience laughs and you hold for an imperceptible moment to allow them to enjoy it. You hear sniffles spreading throughout the theater and you know you touched people’s hearts.

Audience reaction causes the other actors on stage with you to shift their performances slightly too. You shift with them, dancing together with the words setting the rhythm.

Nope. You’re not an actor until you’ve done it in public—whether that’s on Broadway, on a Hollywood soundstage, or onstage in your church hall.

And you’re not a writer—not really a writer—until you’ve done that in public, either. And I don’t mean stationing your laptop on a table in some hipster latte joint. I mean putting your work out in the world and letting people read it.

“You don’t know until you do it and people validate you,” young Ms. Clemons says.

But what if I’m no good? That’s probably the thought that’s been holding you back.

But what, I would counter, if you are good?

I’m betting Kiersey Clemons is a fine actor. She certainly has a very healthy view of creativity.


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