There are many words you should avoid in writing. There are also a few you shouldn’t use once your pen leaves the page, either. Erase these words from your life to put a more positive spin on your writing process — and progress.
“If I don’t publish anything this year, it means I’ve failed.”
I hate the word ‘failure,’ and its many variations. I’ve failed at a lot of things — it isn’t a non-existent concept. But to me — and probably to you — ‘failing’ makes it sound like we just didn’t do anything in an effort to succeed. This usually isn’t true. Usually, a lot of effort goes into everything we do. Sometimes, it just doesn’t end up being enough. You may not reach some of your writing goals this year, you might fall short of your own expectations, you may have even “done the best you could.” But you did not, and will not, fail. You’re better than the implications that word has for you and your existence.
“I can’t ever submit my work on time.”
Actually, you can — you just don’t. Now, you might have a legitimate excuse or two relating to why you aren’t getting your writing done. Some evenings, mental health-wise, I do not do any writing, and that’s just how it goes. But you really need to stop telling yourself you can’t do what you need to do. You are not incapable — you are just challenged. I like the phrase “making it work.” “I’m working on it” also feels appropriate in many cases, as long as you actually are.
“I should write a book.”
Should you? Or do you actually want to? ‘Should’ is a very passive, abstract way of looking at writing. For example, I know I should really finish my two current novels before starting another one in November. But I’ve been saying that for over two years, and that hasn’t actually motivated me to finish them. It’s when I start reminding myself that I really want to finish them that I make the necessary time to sit down and write the books. ‘Should’ also sort of implies you think someone else expects you to do something, and that’s the absolute worst way to approach a creative project.
“I’m going to try starting a blog.”
No, you aren’t. You’re either going to start a blog, or you aren’t going to start a blog. There is no in-between. Trying implies that you don’t plan on putting your full effort into succeeding, which pretty much guarantees you’re
going to fail not going to reach your goals. You know that famous Yoda quote? IT’S RELEVANT. If you want to start a blog, do whatever it takes to start the best blog you can. Don’t just follow through — Make Success Happen. Don’t try. Just do.
Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a staff writer with The Cheat Sheet, a freelance editor and writer, and a nine-time NaNoWriMo winner. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.