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5 Ways Writers Discourage Themselves


(c) 2013 Windy Johansen

As writers, we embark on an adventure every time we write. Why is that? It isn’t only the kind of emotional hurdles built by certain subject matter. It is also the kind of hurdles our own minds can build against this form of self-expression.

What are those hurdles? There are probably more than just these, but here are the five I thought of.

Assigning a Monetary Value Before A Project Begins
Creative pursuits are some of the most valuable things we can do. And that is before money enters into it. Writing is my favorite. I try not to think of money myself. It’s hard; I don’t have much. It would be very easy to fret about money, but it harms the quality of my work.

Money cannot be your first focus in your first steps of writing elements of a given project. Create first. You can assign a monetary value to it later if you want, but if you worry about money before the first word is written, you will likely crush something that could be both awesome and lucrative.

Let your mind be swimming in your writing (as much as you can). It’s a great place to be. :)

Telling Ourselves that Writing Is Only Fun (So We Can’t Spend Time On It)
As I said earlier, I know creative pursuits are very valuable. And I know our lives have so so much going on. There isn’t much you can cut away without everything falling apart.

And yet, I know that writing is just as important as all those other things. It has saved my life (in with God, loving loved ones, and other things I and others did). I cannot tell you how important it is to me. It is the only journal I have and the only one I can keep going. Hundreds of poems, all snapshots of my mental state and evidence of my growing skill.

I need to write just as much as I need to breathe. Along with that, I get to discover (all over again) how much my writing will tell me about how I really feel.

If you feel like you need to write for you to feel whole, then that is a good sign that you might very well need it. And I know you can find time.

Because it is so valuable, and it can be that thing that saves you.

Comparisons to Others
So you’re reading Longfellow on a cold night, with your favorite cocoa in the mug beside you. You think, “Oh I wish I could write like him!” (Substitute your favorite writer in for Longfellow if you like, he’s just one of my favorites.)

It doesn’t matter how rad Longfellow is (and he is!), he is not you, and you are not him. You need to be you. It’s okay if your results are awful and don’t measure up to whomever you’re thinking they should. Your writer’s voice is worthy of the time you need to spend building it and finding it, because you are worth that time.

It will likely be hard. Or really easy sometimes. Which leads into…

Misunderstanding How Hard Writing Is
Writing takes a lot out of you, but adds so much to you. So is it hard or easy?

It’s both. And the thing is, that’s okay.

You don’t have to slave over a hot laptop for hours to produce something worthy of existing. 45 minutes could be all you need. Or it could be the work that really does need slaving over. Learn to trust what your gut says about such things.

I almost never edit my poems. I know, it’s awful, right? But I have tried, and it never adds anything good to them, it never takes anything awful away, and it breaks what was good about them. So they may be awful, but they are the best awful they can be.

And I always learn something….which brings me to the next thing.

A Lack of Self Esteem and Self-Trust
If it’s terrible, that’s okay. If you’re first starting out, it’s possible that nothing feels right. You look at someone else’s writing and proclaim your inferiority and close the notebook or laptop.

I implore you not to do that.

You are likely looking at work that has been through editing. You are also likely to be reading the work of someone who has more experience in their craft and with their own writer’s voice.

You are likely comparing strolling steps to Usain Bolt’s running. And that’s awful, because it makes you feel like you aren’t real, like you’ll never be awesome.

I can tell you that trying, that taking that risk is the only way that you will ever succeed at being the skilled writer that you want to be.

Trust your ability to learn whilst messing up. Trust that your own writer’s voice will unfurl like a little plant’s leaves reaching out of the mud.

Imperfection is to be expected, always. We’re imperfect beings. It’s the going forward despite that that can make us wonderful. And wonderful is what you are made of.

You can be awesome. You are that being who is capable of awesomeness. You are valuable and your voice is needed. A poem with cracks shot through it, but with soul and passion are the best kind of poems to me.

Wonderful is what you are made of. Really.

I’ve learned over time that even the inexperienced poems I wrote in my late teen years were absolutely vital to the way I can write now.

These things that look awful now will shine like diamonds, even if they aren’t the strong pillars you wanted them to be.

You don’t need to know very much to write. I have seen beautiful sentiments wrapped in not-perfect-English that made me cry.

The right people will understand. The wrong people are not to be listened to.

<3 I love you.

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