Growth is inevitable and I believe it’s one of the greatest gifts we can give ourselves as human beings. It can be physical, emotional, spiritual, or educational, but no matter how we choose to grow as individuals, the goal is always the same: We want to be the best version of ourselves in everything we do.
For writers this is especially true. We desperately want this growth to happen on the page word-by-word, day-by-day, chapter-by-chapter. It’s an insatiable hunger.
Although I’ve been writing for over 25 years, I’ve only taken myself seriously as a writer the past 5 years, working feverishly night and day to grow, develop, improve.
And what I’ve come to realize recently is that taking myself seriously has been the biggest writing mistake I’ve made thus far, and I think it might be a mistake many other writers are making.
I think back to when I was a kid, when I first started writing. Writer’s block was never a thing. Writing just happened. Thoughts would appear as words and sentences and I had to write them down. I yearn for the days when I was sprawled out on the floor of my bedroom with a pencil and notebook in hand, writing poetry and stories for nobody else but me. For no other reason than “because.” It wasn’t work. I never had plans or a desire to submit anything to a publisher or agent. I didn’t focus on my daily word count or care about story arc and character development. I just wrote from the heart.
Of course, I don’t look back and think I wrote anything Pulitzer Prize worthy. I’m not sure anything was even publishable, but I think what I wrote was more real than anything I’ve written since. Growth sometimes comes with discovering that you haven’t truly grown at all.
But that’s the great thing about life. When we have those moments, we can take those lessons and turn it into something new. We can continue to seek (and hopefully find) that better version of ourselves.
Other realizations I wish I had when I started writing...
- Writing can’t be forced. It’s intrinsic. If it doesn’t flow naturally, you aren’t writing what you’re supposed to.
- Write what is screaming inside of you every single day even if what you want to write from one day to the next isn't related.
- Greatness is born through the summation of your mistakes. The beauty of writing the first draft is that the words don’t have to be perfect the first time. They just have to be. Stop editing as you write.
- No one knows what will be popular or sell. Stop trying to be the next [Insert Bestselling Author name here]. Be the next best you.
- F?&! what other people think.
- Great writing will never happen unless you start and keep going. So keep going.
Have you had any realizations that have changed who you are as a writer? Did it change how you write? Please share.