Mental Health · Writing Tips

Pep Talk and Tips for Writers With Low Self Esteem

I’ve been hearing a phrase that I don’t like lately and I think it’s even more horrible coming from a writer’s mouth.

“I need…”

Why do I hate this? Because it sounds like desperation. I sounds like a task or a chore. Writing shouldn’t feel that way. Not at first, especially.

You don’t need to write 1,000 words today. You don’t need to become a bestseller with your debut novel. You don’t need to write a clean first draft. You don’t need to follow structures and rigid writing rules. You don’t need to get up at 5am or stay up until 3am when writing.

All you need to do is write! And hopefully god damn enjoy it, too!

Thinking you’re a bad writer isn’t going to make you a better one. Writing will. Writing badly will. Keep writing badly until you don’t cringe at your work so much anymore. No one is going to see it anyway, not unless you want them to, so who cares?

I’ll let you in on a secret: most writers think they’re bad writers! I bet you even famous published writers still have times when they throw out a draft and scream at the computer screen! We’re notoriously mean to ourselves by nature. And it has to stop!

Writing isn’t easy. Technically anyone can write, but writing well or successfully takes hard work. Not talent, necessarily. Not magic! But hard work. That simply translates to never giving up and practicing your ass off.

So you’re not missing anything. You’re not some average Joe while every other writer is special. You’re not behind. You’re not a failure. You’re not a loser.

You’re a writer.

Writers write; that’s all there is to it.

So write. Write today. Write right now! Write for the fun of it. For the hell of it. For the freedom of it. For the clarity that comes from it. Write because that’s what you want to do, not something you have to do. Not a chore. Not a menial job. But a pure creative joy.

Reminders:

  • Your work probably seems bad because you’ve read it a million times over and it feels less exciting to you now.
  • Any big task feels daunting at first. Starting is the hardest part. But you must.
  • Published books are products. They have been polished over and over and over and over and over again. Many eyes have been on them. They’ve been reviewed ahead of their release. Don’t compare your work to books you read, it makes no sense!
  • When in doubt, check in on your characters. The story is about them. It their journey of transformation. Do you really know them?
  • There’s always someone out there who will like (even love) your work. You just need to find them. Everyone has different tastes, so don’t try to please anyone, just please yourself!
  • You don’t need the theme or a strong message at the beginning. You don’t even need to know the ending or what you’re really talking about! If you have the character and some groundwork, you can get started and figure it out along the way.
  • We can’t plan everything ahead of time. It becomes boring if you do, sometimes. Get what you need to start and then start. You can add details later. You can plan as you go.

Tips for getting out of your head and into your writing:

Set a short timer and just write. It frees you up to just do the thing without thinking because you have no time to do so! It takes the pressure off and makes it easier to sit down and do it because it’s only a short period of time.

Use prompts. These take the pressure off too because it doesn’t need to be good or relevant. It just flexes the writing muscle and clears your path. You have no rules. No plans or plots to follow. Just write whatever comes to mind from the prompt and see where it takes you.

Have a ritual or routine for your writing. Wake up, have a cup of coffee and write. Light a candle and write. Go to the local library or cafe and write. Get together with friends and write. Dress up and write. Dance or stretch and then write. Whatever it is, have a habit of doing that thing to get into the right groove.

Talk about your writing without being shy or getting weird about it. You need the practice. Also, talking about writing with other writers will help you to realise that your writing isn’t bad, your process isn’t wrong, and you’re not failing. We all do things differently and that’s okay. It’s great even. We would be boring if we were all the same.

Celebrate your unique way of doing things and love your writing however it comes out.

Sincerely,

S. xx

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