When Your Writing Sucks

pencilI used to struggle with what came out of me onto a fresh page. It was never as beautiful or brilliant as it was in my mind. In my mind, I was an eccentric, quirky, and stunning writer. One the world had yet to seen. In reality, my words were mediocre at best. It kind of depressed me. Thus, began the slog of my writing career.

Every time I wrote, I suffered a little on the inside. Why was I doing it? Why was I torturing myself when my writing sucked? I would never be an award winning writer. I would never write perfect prose like the kind in Karen Walker’s The Age of Miracles or a classic like A Wrinkle in Time. When friends read my work they thought, “I could do that,” not “I wish I could do that.” I was kidding myself. Frankly, I was a little embarrassed.

But it’s been almost a decade since I started writing professionally and it’s been three decades since I vowed to one day be a writer. And I suddenly got it.

All the work that I’ve put in. All the bad writing that I wrote and continue to write. It MEANS something! It is getting me somewhere. The work is the gold at the end of the rainbow.

Eventually you will get there too. But all the sweat you’re putting in is important. It’s necessary even. Every single writer started where you are. Even Mo Willems and Dan Santat must have written something unsuccessful at one time.

I sometimes need to be reminded of it too. Just because your working isn’t published or publishable right now, that doesn’t mean it won’t be. Your time will come. If you put in the time now.

It’s just like raising kids. Your kids won’t applaud you, give you an award or promote you for a job well done. But it MEANS something! At times, it is everything! It may be one of the most important things you do for them, for yourself, for the whole world.

Your writing is your babies. You need to invest the time and energy and the pain of producing shitty work to get to where you want to go. And when you get there, you will know. You will understand why you had to go through hundreds of crappy drafts, and rejected manuscripts. You will get it. And you will appreciate that crazy journey all the more.

What You’re Holding On to Could Be Holding Back Your Writing

{flickr photo by fireflythegreat}

The Pain in My Neck

I went to the chiropractor for the first time in a decade today. I’ve been having a literal pain in my neck and shoulders and wanted to find the culprit. Although the results were inconclusive, the chiropractor did tell me something intriguing. He said my posture was messed up. Okay he didn’t say that exactly, but he did tell me that I was tensing one of my shoulders and hunching my back. I realized that just as we hold onto bad ideas, dysfunctional relationships and negative thoughts, we also unconsciously hold onto our bodies willing it to work in ways that cause us pain and discomfort.

It’s the same for our creative endeavors.

What You Give Out Comes Back to You

If you’re not mindful of how you’re holding your postures, your thoughts, your inaccurate beliefs of what is possible for your life, they could control you. An old college classmate once said, “You walk like you don’t have any self-confidence.”

The energy I was bringing to the world was once that was a gross misrepresentation of what I wanted to express in the world. And that energy was literally causing me a pain in my neck.

How You Could be Sabotaging Your Work-In-Progress 

As I have been unaware of how I was holding myself up, how many of you are letting your work-in-progress down by being unconscious? For example, you may have the following thoughts:

  • that your writing is not good enough
  • that you’ll never make it as a writer
  • that the work you do has no meaning
  • that no one will like it
  • that everyone will laugh at you when they read it.

Well those seemingly innocuous thoughts can sabotage your success, eating away at your efforts to get published.

Letting Go

In order to confront these shadows, it’s important to have be conscious of them and then let them go. Sometimes mean, old, bitter critics that live in our mind come from the words of relatives and friends who said something to us at one point in time. And even though it’s difficult to believe, sometimes their words feel comforting because we’re scared. Believing their words can keep us from confronting our own fears.

But if you want to be a writer, you need to not just write, but write for the world to see. Let go of the idea of perfection. Let go of the belief that you’re not good enough. Let go because doing so will let in something greater to your life.

And watch as they float on by like balloons in your mind.

All writers take risks with the knowledge that doing so will reap far greater benefits that the comfort of squelching their dreams will.

Being a writer is not easy. So the real question is:

How much will you risk to be the writer you always wanted to be?