Photo by fantastic London & Surrey family photographer Antonina Mamzenko
Thank you so much for the fantastic response to last week’s post, What Will You Write in 2012? I had a great time reading through your goals and projects for the year.
I’ve answered quite a few questions in the comments there, but I wanted to pull out three from Julie’s comment to tackle today.
How do you win the battle of silencing the self-critical voice that paralyzes you if you listen to it? How do you find your self-worth and value what you have to give? How do you keep going when you feel stuck?
I’m going to give my take on each of Julie’s questions; I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
How do you win the battle of silencing the self-critical voice that paralyzes you if you listen to it?
You win with every word you write.
You win by reminding yourself that first drafts are always far from perfect.
You win when you acknowledge that voice, but carry on regardless.
You win whenever you remember a time when someone praised your writing, or thanked you for your words.
It’s not an easy battle. And in fact, you don’t need to defeat that voice or silence it for good. You just need to get the first draft or two written – then you can let that self-critical voice back in.
When you’re writing, the voice is your enemy; when you’re editing, it’s your ally.
How do you find your self-worth and value what you have to give?
You’ve got the right to express yourself. You’ve got unique stories to tell – a set of experiences, thoughts, ideas, that are unique to you alone. That’s valuable, even if you only ever write for yourself.
But … you’ll find that other people can help you see that value more clearly.
That might be comments on your blog: Thank you for writing this, it came at the perfect moment for me.
It might be reviews of your book on Amazon: I couldn’t put this down. I loved it!
It might be a friend who needed your help writing a piece of copy: I couldn’t have done it without you.
Focus on what you can provide for other (a gripping read, an inspiring blog post, a helping hand) and you’ll learn how valuable your words are. We all have the ability – and, I believe, the responsibility – to give what we can to the world, through our writing.
How do you keep going when you feel stuck?
Imagine you’re walking and you come to a thicket of brambles. Your coat snags on them. If you keep pushing forwards, you’re going to get yourself even more stuck.
Instead, you need to take a step back. You have to look for a way round that thicket – or for tools to help you get through it.
It’s the same when you’re writing. Feeling stuck (as opposed to feeling lazy, which happens to me a lot ;-)) is often a signal that you need to take a mental step back.
Has your project gone off-course? You may need to cut out a tangent from your blog post, or a misplaced chapter from your book.
Does your project need to change shape? Your novel might actually be a series of linked short stories.
If you’re not sure why you’re stuck, try journaling about it. Thinking things through on paper is what we writers do – and it’s a great tool for problem-solving.
If you enjoyed this post, I’d be very grateful if you’d help it spread by emailing it to a friend, or sharing it on Twitter or Facebook. Thank you!