I'm Not a Writer: Guest Blog by Neil Brennen

neilbrennen I recently (virtually) met the amazing outdoorsman, Neil Brennen, and fell in love with his blog, A Taste for the Woods. For my writers out there, I think you'll love his creative use of dialogue. Neil also has an article coming out this month in Chess Life. He's a witty storyteller that I'd love to go on a hike with anytime. Meet Neil, everyone!


Neil: “So, Mike, when are you going to share that story in your life you’ve talked about?”

Mike: “You know I’m not a writer.”

Neil: “Anyone can be a writer.”

Mike: “Come on.”

Neil: “It's true. I believe anyone can be a writer.”

Mike: “I don’t have skill. I can’t spell. I have trouble with some words.”

Neil: “Excuses.”

Mike: “Oh, come on. Give me a break.”

Neil: “No. Skill isn’t something you are born with; it comes with hard work. Writing is a muscle. If you work it, it gets stronger and better. But you have to do it regularly. And you can’t work it if you never start.”

Mike: “Yeah, but what about spelling? And punctuation. And mistakes—stuff like that.”

Neil: “Do you think writers are born with a spellcheck and style guide in their heads? Or we have it tattooed on our skin in high school? I misspell things all the time. That’s what rewriting is for, in part.”

Mike: “You make mistakes?”

Neil: “Sure. Speaking of tattoo failures, my friend Shea is finally getting that misspelled reference to Philippians on his bicep taken care of. It's always bothered him that his skin proclaims that 'he can do all things through Chris that strengthens him.'"

Mike: “Gee, Neil, when do you get your show on Comedy Central?”

Neil: “I thought it was a good joke. Oh well. Tough house. Anyway, even that joke was, in a way, a story.”

Mike: “Don’t give up the day job.”

Neil: “No, Mike, follow me. That joke had a person, my friend; a problem, his tattoo; and his action, to correct the misspelling. The punchline doesn’t change the fact that it's a story. Mike, you are a funny guy. You tell good jokes, sometimes, but even when they aren’t good, they are stories. If you can tell a joke, you can tell a story. And if you can tell a story, you can write one. You just have to start.”

Mike: “Okay, Neil. I’ll try to write my story if you shut up and stop encouraging me.”

Neil: “Do. There is no try.”

Mike: “No more movie quotes!”

Neil: “Patience, grasshopper. If you build it, they will come.”


Neil Brennen is a writer and outdoorsman. For most of his adult life, Neil was sedentary and super obese. In 2006 through better dieting and exercising, he lost 160 pounds. During that transformation, he went from potato to potential and rediscovered the outdoors previously closed off to him. Through his writing and speaking, Neil advocates that everyone, regardless of challenges, be able to experience and enjoy the natural world.  Neil Brennen writes at ATasteForTheWoods.com