The Blank Page is a new weekly series on Novelty Revisions dedicated to any writer who is just beginning their journey or starting again after a long pause. Check back every Monday for more tips and inspiration.
Every writer has the chance to reach their full potential. To accomplish great things. To publish words that change lives … and maybe even the world.
Many don’t ever reach their greatest achievements. Not because they don’t want to, but because they give in to their biggest barriers and never manage to get past them.
Here are some of the most common “imaginary” roadblocks and how to overcome them.
Your fear of writing something ‘bad.’ Terrible writing is a lot more “normal” than you might think. You don’t see other people’s awful writing very often because most of what gets published is the second or third or twelfth draft. I highly doubt there are many first drafts that are worthy of eyes other than yours.
If you let your fear of bad writing stop you from writing … you’re just not going to get very far! We all write terribly, especially in the beginning. That’s how we learn. The more you write, the more you learn to just go with it, knowing you can always go back and make it better in a later draft.
Your anxiety that no one will like what you write. Real talk: There are many, many people in this world — online and off — who just aren’t going to like you. Their reasons for not liking you don’t matter. They just won’t. And there will probably be nothing you can do about it.
So you really have to approach writing knowing that there are also going to be people who don’t like your work. Many of them will feel the need to tell you in mean and unfair ways, and that’s not cool. But people not liking your work, for one thing, shouldn’t be enough to stop you from writing in the first place. Because here’s the other thing … some people won’t like your work. That doesn’t mean there won’t be plenty of others who will.
Try not to focus only on the negative possibilities. Write for the people who will actually be interested in reading, and don’t worry about the people who won’t be. They’re not your audience. That’s OK.
Your false belief that your words don’t matter. Of COURSE it’s not true! If anyone in your life, familiar or total stranger, has told you that your words mean nothing because [insert reason here], it makes sense that you might feel discouraged and unmotivated to keep writing.
Here’s one truth: There are a lot of people saying a lot of things, especially on the internet. There are no true “original” ideas in the broadest definition of the term, and when you publish your thoughts on Medium about a specific and relevant topic, chances are someone else has already said a lot of what you point out in your essay.
But here’s another truth: Just because it’s crowded out here doesn’t mean your voice doesn’t deserve to be heard. You are unique with a perspective on the world and its issues that no one else can replicate exactly. Your words matter because, with a little practice, you can learn to articulate them in a context and viewpoint that makes people want to pay attention.
This is why a lot of people are now advocating for stories told by writers who have experienced the issues being written about. If you’re a Black author writing about what it’s like to be a Black cosplayer at a Star Wars convention (that was a weirdly specific example but you get the idea), people are going to want to read your words because you have experience to speak to. Your voice means something in that very particular context.
So use that voice where it counts. It matters. It can make a difference.
Just starting out as a writer or returning from an extended hiatus? Let me know how I can help. Just drop a comment below with your questions/concerns — I am here to serve.
Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is an editor and writer, and a 12-time NaNoWriMo winner. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food, and Star Wars.