Over the duration of my life to date, I've noticed that a certain kind of person is apt to say that actions speak louder than words. It's usually a person who is insecure and unthinking. They're likely to speak far less with their own words than they are to repeat others' words--normally cliches. They don't challenge anything they think or they're told, even when what they are told comes from the camp of "the other side." Often now, the other side is the oppositional political side, an exhausting game of "us = good" and "not us = bad" which itself is less about politics than ideologies, though mainly in lip service and agenda, and a lack of a concern with an overall greater good or the fundamental decency of the individual and how we can all impact each other in the most positive ways possible.
The oppositional sides have much in common and are pretty much the same as individuality is ground out of our society, though them's fighting words if they're presented to any of the people on either side. Even when words are rejected, they're not rejected because they've been vetted; they're rejected as an impulse. A learned, trained behavior where the parrot is not the dunce of the class, but the giver of the valedictorian speech, never mind that that parrot got the exact same marks as the other parrots; someone has to represent the group, which is about other things--usually, who that parrot knows, the color of that parrot's feathers, how well that parrot represents the lowest common denominator, the parrot's utter and bland mediocrity--and that is called being platformed. This is pretty much the only form of learning we see in the world now and obviously it's not real learning. Such people neither really agree nor oppose; they simply say things. There is a big difference. I find that these are the people likely to say that actions speak louder than words.
But then we might have a cliche-off, if you will. Battle of the tropes. Actions speak louder than words. The pen is mightier than the sword. Which is it? It's neither. That's what no one ever says. You get the actions speak louder than words people, or else people who don't say that and don't say anything else. Words are actions, for the great writer. That is one way you know a writer is a great writer. They're not just words. They're not just actions.
I wake up each morning and look at the news. Each day, before dawn, I have the same thought: We are humoring ourselves into an inhuman existence. We are taking humans out of humanity. The indulgence that everyone must show everyone else, though none of it comes from a sincere place. It comes from a place of "Please leave me alone" and "Don't come for me." More than anything, human life is now about avoiding the truth. This takes myriad forms. The grandstanding, the patronizing, the lying, the using, the exploitation, the false, vacuous moralizing as the wolf crouches and cowers in the clothing of the sheep, with a heart that lets in less light than the comparatively paler darkness of the ocean ravine; the fear that guides our interactions and has taken over what used to be individual voices. If one alien studied us and reported back to the other aliens and was asked what the biggest takeaway was, I think that alien would say, "Never say the truth. Pretend it's not there. Be lesser."
To write well, one must have and exhibit control. I never see anyone write with any control. I see gesturing and desperation and the overall guiding supposition that it'll be okay because there is a group standing close by in which everyone has a mouthful of smoke that they're all waiting to blow up that first person's ass. There is the operating premise/pipe dream that what is hurled--or soft-tossed--at the page will in some way cohere in a manner beyond what the author him or herself sees, and mean something that the words don't to him or her. Writing is a process of constantly making decisions for precise reasons. The better the writer, the more each of those individual decisions impacts different levels at once. Everything must move in the slowest of motion for you as you do it with robust pace. You can sit down to write something and improvise it on the spot, but you're not ever really improvising when you're writing, because to write is to design and make choices and control the strictures of time, because writing takes place on the inside, and impacts others on the inside, where all is possible and time is no overlord. Whether those are done weeks in advance or in the moment, there is still that design and choice-making. How long you have something--have it in head, heart, soul--is immaterial. A second can be as valid as ten years. Writing is understanding that a second is a huge, huge, amount of time.
But you must have and exhibit command. I can see command in every word choice, every comma, every paragraph break. I see no one in the world right now who writes fiction with any command. I see people who hurl at a page--albeit slowly, because rarely do they sit down to write--who are then dependent upon, and counting on, being lied to, enabled, by the diseased writing community that exists for such a reason, and never for the actual fostering of writing that matters. Nowhere is good writing more ancillary than in publishing and within communities of so-called writers. Good writing is more relevant, in truth, to an assembly of plumbers than these so-called writers. That is not why they "write."
People often fail to ask themselves the most basic questions about what they create. They do this because they're not creating anything for an audience. Not really. Or anyone's enrichment or growth. For instance, there are no writers of fiction at present who ask themselves, "Do people need to see what I've just written?" Or, "What is the point of what I've just written?" They're doing it for them, so they can call themselves something. Life is like a coat rack for many people, and almost all self-described writers. We need things to hang on our coat rack. That's what writing is for the other writers. They need to hang something, in order to be something. Or tell themselves they are something. It's just a coat rack. It belongs in the home, I suppose, and is not to be taken out of doors and shown to the world. They're doing it for them, for this rickety reason, and not for anyone else, which is the entire point if one can actually write. How does one write? That's two-fold. One must enter this world with ability. And then one must work to hone that ability constantly. What's constantly? Every second of every day. One must think writing. One must be writing. One must perceive the world as writing. One goes to the film, but experiences it as writing, as with the painting, as with the sound of the sea on rocks, the snippet of overheard conversation, the same as one experiences a fire hydrant or a breeze. That's what I mean by every second of every day. And one must sit down every day of one's life and write.
There is no one who does these things. And rare is the person born with true talent in the first place. There is no greater ability than the ability to write at the highest levels, because there are an infinite number of variables and possibilities. There's really no end to what one can master. Do you ever see those Instagram videos for basketball, where an instructor says, "add these moves to your game!" I watch a lot of those videos. They show up in my feed. So many people of all ages have basketball skills. But there are a finite number of these skills to master. The instructors even give them names. They number them in their videos. You can't do that with writing. You can't master writing like Michael Jordan can master basketball. To master writing takes worlds more. There is nothing harder to do in the history of humans. There is nothing that can impact us more, either, when it is done at the highest level, a level which itself houses entire universes--and beyond--of invention and range. There is a limit to most things we can "do." Michael Jordan had his limit in basketball, because there is a limit. There is no limit, potentially, with writing.