blog about reviews writing

Monday, October 17, 2011

Why Your Horribleness Doesn't Matter

Every writer, at some point or other in their writing career, is going to have some esteem issues.  I can guarantee it.  They're going to feel like they'll never get published.  They'll feel like their book is terrible and they're terrible and words hate them. 

If you never get any form of this, please send me a message.  I will seriously pay to know your secret. 

Now, I don't know what your writing is like.  I don't know what level you write at.  I don't know whether you know your stuff and can write a decent narrative, or if you struggle and your words run all over the place. 

My guess is that, if you're reading this blog, you are somewhere in the middle.  And that's okay.  But here's the issue: too many writers look at their own work and say, "Wow, that was terrible.  I'm not good at this.  I'll never be good at this.  I think I'll go drown myself in chocolate now." 

You cannot tell yourself this.  I repeat, you cannot do this to yourself.  You just can't fill your mind with that kind of negative self-talk.  It won't get you anywhere.  You'll just dig yourself deeper and deeper into the pity pit and you'll never be able to come out.  And besides, none of it is true.

Yes, that's right.  It isn't true.  Well, you could, in truth, be a horrible writer.  But that's alright, isn't it?  I mean, we all have to be horrible at some point.  Even now, I look at my first novella and shudder.  And in a few years, I'll probably look back at my current work in progress and say "Wow, Annie.  Really?  Really?" 

Everyone starts out as a not-so-great writer.  Everyone starts at the bottom.  J.K. Rowling wasn't very good, when she started writing.  Michael Grant started out at the bottom.  C. S. Lewis started out at the bottom.  J. R. R. Tolkein started at the bottom.  Stephen King.  Eoin Colfer.  Toni Morrison or John Green or Sarah Dessen or Rick Riordan or Dr. Suess or whoever you like to read.  All of them started out in the same place as you. 

So what does that mean for you? 

They started out as "bad" writers.  And so did you.  It's not something to be ashamed of; it's just a fact of life.  It's not any different than the first time you shot a basketball, or drove a car, or played the piano.  You weren't any good at it.  But you got better, didn't you?

Never, ever, ever, ever (ever, ever, etc.) tell yourself that you'll never be a good writer.  If you tell yourself this, then I can guarantee that it will become true.  If you always feel that way about your writing abilities, then you won't have the ability to get any better. 

What can you do, then?  Stephen King has some excellent advice:

"If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot."

To me, that is the best piece of advice you could give any aspiring writer.  There's really only one way to turn yourself from a bad writer into a good one...and that is to write.  You'll write some good pieces, and a lot more bad ones.  But it doesn't matter.  With each thing you write, you get better.  Each word contributes to your overall journey.  When it comes to becoming a better writer, there will never be a word that you will regret writing.  With enough effort, you'll reach the writing level you want to be at.  I promise you that if you work hard enough, and want it bad enough, you'll get it.

It doesn't matter if you can't write well yet.  If you stop trying, then you'll never be a good writer.  If you keep on writing, then there's nowhere you can go but up.   

(And if when you get down-in-the-dumps about your writing, watch this video.  Never underestimate the power of baby sloths when it comes to feeling bad.
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