Why Writers Should Stop Beating Themselves Up (About Their Talent, Writing Schedule, or Anything Els
Speaking of pep talks… I would like to preface this post by suggesting you watch this “Pep Talk” video, which is funny and feel-good. Waaaait. Did you watch it? Okay, good. Now let’s have a writer to writer pep talk. Today I’m talking about why writers should stop beating themselves up over their talent, their writing schedule, & anything else that makes us say, “I’ll never be a real writer… my work is terrible.”
Think about your own writing life. What doubts haunt you? What flaws in yourself do you make into stumbling blocks? I know a few of my own. Over the years, I have learned how to deal with (most of) them. Am I somehow free from any doubt now? No. Not by a long shot. In fact, the more I write and the further along in my journey I go, the more the doubt creeps in. That’s when these things become even more important.
I'M NOT AS TALENTED AS OTHER WRITERS
Pretty much every single writer thinks this, so you are not alone. The problem with this idea is that it puts all the focus on other writers. When you constantly compare your writing to other books and authors, it becomes impossible for you to develop your own voice… your own STORY. The best books I have ever read were ones with three-dimensional characters and out-of-the-box ideas. What if their authors has tried to fit into a mold, and whittled their story down unto it was just a clone of some other book out there. Would I love it as much? Of course not!
Let’s look at a scenario – A writer feels like they aren’t as talented as everyone else. Then they get published. Now, other writers read their story, love it, and compare their own writing to it. Those fledgling writers then think their writing stinks, because it isn’t as good as said published author. That author once thought the same thing… they compared their writing, found it lacking, and doubted themselves. Now, they are the one being compared to. They are causing other writers to doubt. This vicious cycle is how the whole I’m-not-as-talented mentality works. In the end, it isn’t about other writers. It’s about YOU.
Many times, when we read a book we absolutely love, we are going to think our writing pales in comparison. Do you think that the author of that book thinks the same way? Don’t you think they have favorite authors who they think are much better? Don’t you think they doubt also? We are our own toughest critics. I know I read through my novel and pick through sentences, break open every phrase, and spend hours sometimes trying to find the right wording for a specific paragraph… only to scrap it later because I think it’s awful. I then show that paragraph to someone else, and they love it. We are too hard on ourselves. Learn all you can, never stop growing, never think you are too good to ever improve. But also remember that every writer has, at some point in their life, been at rock bottom, writing some pretty bad stuff. You know what, though? They pushed through. And you will too.
I DON'T FOLLOW A WRITING SCHEDULE LIKE THE PROS. I DON'T EVEN WRITE EVERY DAY!
I beat myself up about this one. Let me let you in on a little secret, guys. As of right now, when I’m writing this post, I don’t write every day. I’m starting to pull it together, and I’m working on a more productive daily schedule to allow for more routine blogging and writing time. Even so, I write sporadically. I am going through kind of a writing slump, and I haven’t worked on my WIP in a while. I tell myself I’ll spend an hour before bed writing, and then get distracted doing something else (see #3 below). Then, when the day’s done, I scream at myself for not hitting any sort of word count goal for the day.
Sometimes, it’s hard to find time. Many of you guys work full-time jobs. You have families, or school, or any other of the 10,000 commitments we juggle each week. Squeezing in writing time can be hard. Now I’m not saying that you shouldn’t try to have a schedule, or meet a daily word count. You should. What I am saying is that, if you don’t, don’t beat yourself up. You could write 1,000 words a day and never finish a novel, if you keep changing WIPs and are never committed. On the other hand, you could write sporadically over the course of three years and finally reach THE END. Which scenario is a successful one? While the first one sounds like a commitment – you are, after all, writing every day! – it doesn’t matter. What matters is finishing! So try your very best to write every day… to meet that word count goal… to be consistent and productive and dedicated. But if you don’t, and if you aren’t, it doesn’t make you any less of a writer.
I WATCHED TV INSTEAD OF WRITING... CLEARLY I DON'T WANT IT ENOUGH!
If I beat myself up about #2, I turn myself black and blue with this one. I am guilty of this more than I care to confess! Like I said, I’m working on crushing this habit, and on being more productive in my writing, blogging, and life in general. However, it’s hindered me in the past considerably, and I’m sure it’s caught you guys a time or two. Have you ever done something other than write in your free time, and then felt guilty afterwards? Took your kids to the movies? That little voice whispers, That’s two-and-a-half hours you could have spent writing. Sound familiar?
Writers seem to think that every moment of their free time needs to filled up by writing. True, I love writing so much that I often want to spend every moment doing it. But that doesn’t mean you should. Writing is a part of our lives, but it is only a part. We have families and other hobbies, and it’s okay to spend time elsewhere. Having a daily word count goal (a good one to strive for is 1,000 words a day) can help you crush this guilt, because it’s much easier to enjoy ourselves if we know we still met our goal! What makes you a serious writer is not spending every waking moment writing. It’s consistently showing that you are dedicated to it, and that you make it a routine in your day and life.
What doubts can you not seem to shake as a writer? How have you been able to overcome them? Comment below, or over at my Facebook page, where I share more tips and encouragement for writers!