There are only eight more days until this year is over! With that in mind, what are you looking forward to complete or start for the new year of 2021. What are you looking forward to? What have you been scared to start? What have you been scared to finish? What have you been dreaming of doing? If the idea has come back to you more than once, that is a sign that you need to write it down.
You can do it. Don’t fear the words–fear not writing them.
I am a fan of workshops! They are a place of resources, networking and brainstorming. They are places where you can study, as well as participate. Think of workshops as a type of recess for your brain! Why is it recess? Well, recess is a time to play or exercise–workshops give that! They are places to allow you to learn, ask questions, get critique and network! How will you ever know what you are good at–or how to improve it!–if you never share what you are doing!
The greater thing about workshops is they are constructed to suit the needs of writers. Yes, there are the more traditional workshops that are scheduled according to the desire of a facilitator. Then, there are those workshops which are modeled more after an on-going group. Here, writers are given a safe space to be mentored, become mentors and to even receive guidance to be the writer they desire to become.
While the success of a workshop is subjective, it must be emphasized that success is determined by what you are willing to contribute to it.
Are you willing to ask questions?
Are you willing to admit that you don’t know everything?
Are you willing to try new things?
Are you willing to participate as well as be lead?
Are you willing to write–and even write beyond your comfort zone?
If you answer to any of these questions is “Yes”, then a workshop (either traditional or in a group setting) is just the tool you need to become the writer you dream of being. Find your tribe! Find your people and invest in your talent. After your find your people, make them read your stuff.
This is something I am so sensitive about speaking of! I pride myself on being an encourager, and something of a writing midwife–a writer’s writer if you will. So, when the topic of discouragement comes up? I get really defensive and angry. I want to chase it out of the lives of writers because it is a cancer on and towards all creativity. It’s a block of the worst sort!
But, I have to talk about it. Even if it is begrugingly.
Discouragement is the opposite of encouragement. This you know. With that antonym in mind, discouragement is the thing that strangles your heart, determined to kill everything in it! This type of hindrance is heart-breaking. It often doesn’t come from any internal voice most times! It may be in the form of the people whom love you, but tell you to forsake writing. Whom may tell you they can’t or won’t support you ‘because what you’re doing isn’t special.’ Let’s not even talk about your own doubts, fears and inhibitions! A working writer has enough going on internally as we work –we don’t needed the added stress of other people telling us, discouraging us, from what we are already scared to do!
Discouragement can be project-specific or cyclic. You must be aware of this. You have to be able to notice what causes this, and what uproots or defuses it! In recognizing this, in finding out the direction and reason behind the discouragement you can begin to combat it! Whether this means to start writing in a specific area, or on a specific day, or you just keep all your writing to yourself to share with a select group of people–do what makes you comfortable and happy.
Eff the naysayers!
This is your talent, your time and your life–be bold!
One of the coolest things about being a writer, the absolute best thing, is looking back through drafts. Revisiting work that you either forgot about (it happens!), left unfinished, or decided to abandon because the lure of another project. However, make the time to revisit the old work.
Why is this important? It shouldn’t be on the surface, but it should be something you as a writer do periodically. Reflection is a muscle to a writer, especially in matters of their own work! There does come a time when you must have a working detachment to your work. notice I did not say to become hyper critical about it, or towards it.
You must be able to view unfinished work, as that: unfinished. Not bad. Not unworthy. Not horrible. But unfinished. The work awaits you, and you for the work.
The work is always there!
In examining the work left undone, you have to see it as both done–and undone. You may yet fall in love with it again. Research, time and experience sometimes congeal to grant the fuel a writer to complete what is left–of their own work. You would even be surprise at how flipping a character’s POV, gender, or revamping a subplot into the main plot could work wonders!
Here are your hidden jewels, dear ones. Go find them!
All the talent in the world will not insulate you from moments of doubt. The best well written outline will not save you from doubt. All the writing challenges, writing sprints and applications for NaNoWriMo will not save you from doubt.
But here is something that you need to not just understand, but to know: a doubt unchecked becomes a rooted fear.
A doubt–unchecked–becomes a rooted fear.
As a creative person, especially a writer, you will encounter these moments where the words won’t come, or they cannot come. These types of doubts are normal. However, when the doubts which are not worked through become fears.
A fear in something irrational, or unproven in some cases.
In the years by which I have been at this craft, learning and trying to do it better, the main three fears which occur in the life of writers are can be summed up here:
1.) Fear of Launching.
2.) Fear of Criticism.
3.) Fear of Vision.
Let me explain a little further.
The Fear of Launching will run the space out of a computer, jump drive or notebook. It will keep you second guessing, nervous and believing it is good enough to just write! This fear will keep you as a hamster on a wheel.
How you defeat this: Write and begin to share you work. Find a writing group. Find a free platform. If you are a minority writer, these writer groups are essential. Writing in community helps.
The Fear of Criticism will send keep you thinking that you work will have no audience. That you will not be successful. This fear will paralyze your talent: it will stop you from writing or sharing your work! This fear will be apparent especially in the beginning–and must be handled afresh with every project.
How you defeat this: Write. Write scared. Write everything that you think you want to read! Remember these two quotes.
“If there is a book you want to read, you must write it.” -Toni Morrison
“A real writer can write anything.” -Christopher Priest
Write because you know you can.
The Fear of Vision will keep you from branching out into the world. It will keep you stifled and stymied into a genre either you want to change, or expand. As a writer, you must become comfortable in seeing what other people cannot see. Don’t be afraid of what you see, or want to see! That is the nature of this craft–we create what we see, that other people can’t see, in order to make the world is little bigger or smaller.
How to confront this: Write what you want to write, and not what other people tell you to write. Find the genre that makes you happy, that speaks to you, and write what you want. Write the things you want to see.
It has a key to your creative house, and knocks stuff over. It eats all your brain food. And it sits at your desk, or sleeps in your bed–putting you out of your comfy space.
You have to put it out!
You take the keys back from doubt every time you pick up a pen. Every time you research. Every time you pick up your work. Every time your call yourself a writer in public, private and when asked. Doubt deflates when you believe in what you can do.
Doubt will never able to live where faith in self lives!
The scariest thing sometimes is to create a story. The next scariest thing is to decide to revise something you may have had to push through to finish. The thing which hinders writers to revise is anxiety. Namely, the dynamic duo of fear and doubt.
The fear tells the writer, “How can you do it?” Doubt says, “I don’t think I can, I don’t see how I can, and I can’t. I can’t. I can’t!” These voices will always haunt writers. We coexist with fear and doubt. From idea conception to publishing, we wax and wane between the highs and lows brought about through, by creativity.
In conquering these bickering, quibbling voices, try these steps:
1.) Be forgiving of yourself.
Writing is hard! Let no one tell you different. Sometimes the best thing you can do is to forgive yourself for doubting the quality of your work, or leaving a work or draft believing it is not worth rewriting. Audre Lorde notes there are times that writers don’t in fact write! And indeed this is heartbreaking. However, in forgiving yourself, you allow the gift, the talent to return without hindrance.
2.) Be honest.
What are you writing to write?
What are you trying to say?
Don’t think about what other people will think when they read it, you must first write the book you want to read. From there, you are able, will be able to write and revise as you desire.
3.) Be consistent.
We know that scheduling writing time can be a thing of miracles. However, if you desire to finish or revise a work, you will have to push through doubt by way of discipline and consistency.
If you set out to make Wednesdays your revision/writing days? Do that. Let nothing hinder you from that work, and developing that discipline.
Discipline helps to silence doubt, and stifle fear. It proves to your talent and giftings they are under control, subject to your demand, and are subject to exercising. You can write because you can write.
4.) Be confident.
This is your story. You are its writer. These people, these worlds you create, are subject to your control and the limited only by your imagination. Write as if know one is looking. The only one who is will be you. So give your audience something to see.