What Keeps You From Writing?
For this week, I have a question that will draw in many different people with different answers.
“What keeps you from sitting down and writing?”
What is stopping that next killer blog post, mind-blowing novel, informative white paper or life-changing e-books from pouring out of your mind and onto paper?
When we decide to be writers, all sorts of criticism and judgment from others may show up. And often, we don’t recognise our uncertainties and our fears for what they truly are. They hide behind to-do lists, cloaked in victimhood and responsibility to others, disguised in blame and shame through which we are incapable of seeing ourselves truthfully.
It took me some time to realise the things that others may say or have said to me about my writing. Here are just a few things that showed up:
- “It’s a waste of time.”
- “There are more important things to do.”
- “Your writing isn’t that good.”
- “It’s too hard to be a writer, are you sure you want to try?”
After hearing those noises, we tend to turn internally, saying to ourselves in the privacy of our own minds at our desk with no words flowing: “I want to get up and walk away from writing.” And those doubts that were at the back of your mind starts getting louder:
- “Who cares about what I write? No one’s ever going to read this.”
- “Am I wasting my time? I might as well give up.”
Sometimes, of course, quitting is sensible. There’s no point carrying persistently on with something that you’ve lost all interest in.
BUT often, quitting isn’t the right choice. Perhaps a week later, a month later, or a year later, you find yourself wishing you’d just stuck with writing a little longer.
Overcome Challenging Situations
It could be that you’re going through a difficult period of your life, such as you have very young children, or maybe you have a chronic energy-depleting illness, or perhaps you work crazy hours at your day job.
It could be that you’ve received some really discouraging feedback, such as a nasty comment on one of your blog posts, or a mocking review of your first published novel, or an unusually harsh review of your work from a writing buddy.
Maybe your dearest and nearest don’t “get” your writing and is not being supportive. There are many writers blessed with a family full of wonderful sources of support. However, there are also many writers with partners, parents or friends who see their writing as a waste of time.
None of these is easy to overcome. Some people might casually tell you that “you’ll find time for it if it’s a priority” or “ignore trolls and haters.” But of course, it’s not that easy.
Some Ideas That Might Help
If your life isn’t currently very well-matched with writing:
- With your situation, what’s realistic right now? It might be that “realistic” is 20 minutes of writing after lunch, while the children are napping.
- What can you control? If you can’t do anything about the crazy shifts you work, maybe you could change your days-off routine around, so you can write first thing.
If you’ve had some discouraging feedback:
- Don’t force yourself to “get over it.” Give yourself a sensible time to be sad or angry about it. Maybe take a few days off from writing, get back up and move on.
- All writers get negative feedback. It’s impossible to have one piece of writing to be right for every single reader. Scroll through any popular book online and read the one-star reviews. There is this universal rule: There’s always lovers and haters.
If your nearest and dearest don’t “get” your writing:
- Don’t talk to them about your writing and continue to write. If they happen to interrupt, make them aware of it. If that doesn’t work, get out of the house and head to a library, café, or friend’s place where there is positivity. This leads me to the next point.
- Get to know fellow writers. A local group is a great option if your area has one or you can create one. An online group on forums or Facebook can also be really encouraging.
I Can Tell You This
I can’t talk you into sticking with it, nor can I sit with you while you write and encourage you to keep going.
But I can tell you this:
That poem you’re working on could be the one bright spot in someone’s crappy day. That novel you’re writing could become someone’s favourite for years and years to come. That blog post you’ve outlined could be exactly what someone needs to finally break through a barrier. And this won’t just happen once. This will happen repeatedly.
Don’t let your fears or uncertainties rob the world of what you have to give. Become capable to see yourself truthfully.
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