If you’re here for the karaoke thing, I lied. This is for the writers who need to be nicer to themselves. The extrovert masterclass is two pages back.
You know what happens to introverts (writers and the like) when they are asked to participate in things like karaoke, improv sessions, or large group projects? They spontaneously combust.
None of that here. But we are going to talk about being a little bit nicer to ourselves.
We’re creative. We’re full of words. We’re awesome!
And we’re really, really great at beating ourselves up. Pretty prolific at that, in fact.
Time to Stop That
Our work is valuable, and negative self-talk does nothing but slow us down or completely stop us in our tracks. Do we all have to write in the same way, in the same voice, with the same tone? Gawd no. Can you imagine what a snooze-fest would be?
Writers are notorious for diminishing our work. We make our work smaller than it is for different reasons:
- Lack of confidence.
- Previous negative feedback (see lack of confidence).
- Lack of experience (see lack of confidence).
- Lack of “formal” training (see lack of confidence).
- Intimidated by other writers (see lack of confidence).
- Fear of rejection (see lack of confidence).
Examining this list, it’s pretty clear writers could use a healthy dose of confidence. We tend to tuck our words away in dusty desk drawers because we’re not convinced of the awesomeness in our words.
Note: What we have to say IS awesome. That doesn’t mean it’s for everyone at every time in every place. And that doesn’t mean we don’t need to polish, perfect, and put some shine on it. But never be afraid to get your fantabulous ideas out there. That’s where the genius starts!
Do you write cookbooks? Your work will pass on family traditions.
That guy over there who writes bilingual picture books? His work will shape young lives.
And the octogenarian undertaking her first memoir? Her work will be a living piece of history.
I can even do one for the people who write those sensational not-in-the-slightest-way-true stories for those tell-all magazines at the grocery store checkstand.
My grandma, who is 86, is highly entertained and energized by the colorful tales that are woven in those rags. Their work MATTERS.
Every single writer is different. But every writer has one thing in common:
YOUR WORK IS VALUABLE
Get Your Galoshes
Here’s where we step into the mirey-muckety-muck. If we talked to other people like we talk to ourselves sometimes, we would be embarrassed (I hope). We’re looking at a brand-new year, so let’s ditch the negative self-talk.
BET…we’ll all be better writers for it.
Stop saying these 5 things and just focus on writing badassery:
- Aspiring. This is my biggest pet peeve (next to people saying ‘pet peeve’). You know when you were an ‘aspiring’ writer? When you were FOUR! When you were trying not to write your Zs backwards and trying not to write ‘shit’ instead of ‘sit.’ Your mom was also aspiring to send your little butt to school so she could go to a yoga class and have some damn peace and quiet. And you know what? You made it! Yay, Kindergarten. NOW? Now, you’ve spent years of your life writing your ass off. You’ve learned the rules, broken the rules, written crap, written some pretty good stuff, and now your writing kicks some word-bending butt. You. Are. A. Writer.
- Rejected. It sucks. I know. We’ve all gotten the dreaded letter (or fifty) letting us know our book just isn’t what they’re looking for. I once met a writer who kept every single ‘rejection’ letter’ she received, craftily organized in a notebook. This was perplexing until she told me that every one of them led to the final acceptance letter, and subsequent publication, of her book. She shifted her thinking and started to look at those letters from agents and publishers as learning opportunities and stepping-stones to her final destination.
- I’m too old/young to write a book. Back in 1987, there was this dude from Japan named Teiichi Igarashi who summited the 12,385-ft. Mount Fuji (in freaking SOCKS). At the time, he was 100 years old. You are not too young. You are not too old. Sit your ass down at the keyboard and write.
- I don’t know what I’d doing. Now that’s funny. At age 2, our youngest child ate chinchilla shit. There’s no instruction manual. We were five kids in and STILL didn’t have the gig down. He’s now 13-years-old and teaching himself guitar. Nobody knows what the hell they are doing. If you feel compelled to write a book, write your book. If you have a story in you, get it out there. You’ll write some shit. You’ll pan out the gold.
- How did I miss that? Crap, in Chapter 1 your main character had blonde hair and in Chapter 4 it’s red? Know why that happened? Because you are slinging a mega-crap-ton of words at the page, and sometimes stuff happens. Our creative minds sometimes outrun our thinky brains. That’s exactly what proofreading, editing, re-reading, reading aloud, and all those good things are for. Don’t beat yourself up. Sling more words.
Listen, writer. You’ve worked long and hard. It’s time to do your thing. Stand tall, be proud, light that keyboard on fire.
Now, stand up. Grab that karaoke mike and belt out “My Heart Will Go On” like nobody is watching.
Yeah, you’re right. Everybody is watching. Sit back down at your desk and make sentences. You’re really good at that.