Let Go Of That Story You Can’t Stop Running Back To

Just let go.

Returning to an unfinished story again and again is risky for many reasons.

Many writers keep coming back to what’s familiar simply because it’s familiar. They don’t want to explore new worlds or get to know new people or make new discoveries. Or, more accurately, they’re hesitant or afraid to.

A comfort zone will do that to you, you know. Keep you locked into the safety and warmth of the only home you have ever known.

There is nothing wrong with loving a story. There is nothing wrong with being proud of what you have created.

But sometimes, it’s time to let go.

Continue reading “Let Go Of That Story You Can’t Stop Running Back To”

To Quit Writing Would Be So Easy, Wouldn’t It?

Wow, you could just … stop. Right now.

Sometimes I forget how easy it is to stop writing. To lose motivation. To want to quit.

It’s the curse that often comes with training yourself to write a lot, every day, consistently.

I’m not afraid to admit that I forget to look back at where I have been. To remember that there were times I couldn’t write at all, couldn’t form more than a few sentences on a page in my journal before I gave up. I forget that there have been moments of such intense discouragement that I once spent months looking and interviewing for jobs that had nothing to do with my writing or my passion at all because I was just so tired of being tired.

When you really think about it — if you allow yourself to think about it hard enough — writing, like so many other things, would be so easy to quit. All you’d have to do is take your hands off your keyboard or drop your pen, stand up, walk away, and never go back to it again.

Ever.

Would that really be the worst thing you have ever done? Would quitting destroy you? Probably not. In the end, you would probably be just fine.

Right?

Continue reading “To Quit Writing Would Be So Easy, Wouldn’t It?”

Before You Can Fix Your Writing, You Must First ‘Fix’ Yourself

A new writing prompt won’t erase your fear of failure.

I’m fortunate enough to be in a position where writers (hopefully) feel comfortable telling me what they are struggling with.

Usually, the problems we end up addressing (usually here in comments or on Twitter) don’t actually have anything to do with writing. At least, not directly.

Most of the time, what writers wrestle with most isn’t how to tell a story, but how to overcome all the mental and creative barriers preventing them from telling the story they want to tell.

Of all the issues I’ve seen aspiring writers struggle with over the years, the most common seem to be issues all of us have dealt with at some point in our lives, or still do today.

  • They don’t feel confident.
  • They don’t feel they have the support they need.
  • They’re afraid of failure.
  • They’re avoiding rejection.
  • They don’t want to embarrass themselves.

This list could go on and on. Which really says a lot about writing both as a hobby and a profession. We don’t struggle to achieve our dreams because doing so is impossible. We so often fall short of our own ambitions as writers because we allow ourselves to THINK it’s impossible.

Writers can create as many schedules as they want to, attend as many writing workshops and conferences as they want, take as many classes and earn as many certificates or even degrees as they want. You can revamp your routine as many times as you desire. You can read all the books, absorb all the advice, become the armchair expert you always said you would never be.

But if you don’t start with the roadblocks that exist within your own head, you’re never going to be able to get any worthwhile writing done. And if you don’t write, well, you’re “technically” not a writer.

Before you can fix your writing schedules and routines and roadblocks, you have to first “fix” yourself.

Continue reading “Before You Can Fix Your Writing, You Must First ‘Fix’ Yourself”

In Defense of Writing In the Dark

Hello, darkness. We meet again.

I used to be afraid that if I wrote the stories I really wanted to write, and showed them to the world, everyone would think there was something wrong with me.

I mean, to be fair, there are plenty of things wrong with me and I’m not ashamed of any of them at this point in my life. I don’t think I would be the writer I am today — or a writer at all — if I’d never felt the pull of creative expression as an escape from the real world I had no choice but to grow up in.

I’ll never forget the first time I showed something I had written — a poem, maybe, or a very short essay — to a therapist. I didn’t like to talk about my writing or even mention the fact that I was a writer to people I didn’t know well, but when the subject came up and she found out I was a writer, she asked if I could bring something for her to read.

Of course I chose the darkest thing in my portfolio to show her (if you could even call it that — I was 15), because, I mean, why not?

Thankfully she ended up liking it, or so she told me (maybe I just needed encouragement, and looking back, whether she was just being nice or telling the truth, I sincerely appreciate it). Perhaps it was in that moment that I realized there is power in writing dark things, as long as they don’t leave the reader completely trapped within.

Maybe this is what we all not so secretly crave — to have our attractions to darkness justified, or praised, or at the very least, understood.
Continue reading “In Defense of Writing In the Dark”

Don’t Throw Away Your Work. Just Set It Aside.

Don’t give up! Not forever!

Have you ever looked at something you’ve written or are currently in the process of writing, looked at the nearest trash can, and seriously considered just dumping your entire laptop into it and walking away like nothing happened?

It’s technically not a sin to delete something you have written.

But there are plenty of reasons you shouldn’t.

Here’s the thing about your original work: It’s yours. You can do whatever you want with it (until you give the rights to someone else … we don’t need to get into that right now).

Of course you can throw it away if you want to.

But you don’t have to.

Continue reading “Don’t Throw Away Your Work. Just Set It Aside.”

Why I’ve Never Stopped Writing for ‘Exposure’

It’s not a forbidden thing to do.

I earn less than $1 writing 30+ blog posts every 30 days.

This is not a complaint, and if I’m being honest, it’s a vast improvement over the first eight years I spent doing this. It was, and still is, my choice to keep ads and brand deals off this site. It has never felt right to do that to my audience and it never will. So I’m totally OK with not making a living doing what I do.

If we’re being technical, I actually lose money on this blog every year after paying the costs of my domain and WordPress.com hosting.

And yet I’m still here doing the thing. It’s almost been 11 years, and I’m still here, writing for free.

Why?

To be clear, this isn’t the only writing gig I’m happily committed to that does not pay me at all, and there are several others that don’t pay much for the amount and hours of work that go into the content I produce.

But still. Why? If I’m trying to make a living as a writer, why do I do so much work without much financial reward?

Add in the amount I do earn that doesn’t get taken out for taxes at payout, meaning I’m going to have to pay the government out of my own pocket in the spring because that’s just how things are (#adulting #work), and … yeah. People think making money as a writer is so easy. It’s not. It’s really not.

I am fortunate enough to be in a position where multiple websites pay me for my work. A company also pays me to edit other people’s words, which I would some days argue is a thousand times harder than actually writing. I know I have an advantage over many aspiring writers who have to trudge through jobs they don’t like while also figuring out how to set aside time in their personal lives to pursue their writing goals.

But I also know this whole “should you write for free and when” debate is an ongoing thing for many writers, because even I still struggle with it sometimes. I wanted to bring up the topic with the general understanding that anyone reading this, while searching for paid opportunities to grow as a writer — as you should be — are also concerned about growing and establishing yourself from the ground up.

Hopefully some of the insights below can help.

Continue reading “Why I’ve Never Stopped Writing for ‘Exposure’”

This Is What I, a Writer, Am Afraid Of.

There are many things. Here are 12.

1. Never being taken seriously.

2. Never having enough time to write all the things I desperately want to write.

3. Constantly writing things other people don’t “get” and not knowing what to do about it.

4. Agreeing to write something for all the wrong reasons.

Continue reading “This Is What I, a Writer, Am Afraid Of.”

I Hope Someone Will Tell Me When My Writing Isn’t Good

It won’t always happen, but there’s always hope.

My particular “brand” of anxiety makes being a creator and performer its own level of challenging.

Basically, my brain just automatically assumes that everyone I interact with instantly hates me. And some days, it tries to tell me everyone who knows me and interacts with me on a regular basis doesn’t actually like me and is just pretending.

I do my best to ignore these feelings, of course. I’m a 27-year-old woman with a job and responsibilities and ambitions. I can’t afford to curl up into a ball and hide from the world every time I start to worry that everyone is lying to me about everything.

And I definitely can’t afford not to publish everything I write because I’m afraid it’s bad and no one will tell me — or worse, that everyone will say it’s good even though it isn’t and I won’t know the difference.

Because of the nature of my work, I have to keep writing and publishing even on the days it terrifies me. Which is, I think it’s safe to guess, most of the days.

Sometimes I just feel like I need someone to tell me the truth — ideally with some kind of “proof” that they’re being honest with me.

Some days I just want to tell everyone I know that if what I’m writing isn’t good, they can tell me.

Usually, I don’t do this.

I’m not going to beg for feedback because feedback is not easy to give. I’m not going to let my Impostor Syndrome affect other people or constantly talk about my insecurities as a human being and as a writer.

But that does not mean the worry and fear isn’t there. It does not mean I don’t experience it every day, if not multiple times per day.

Continue reading “I Hope Someone Will Tell Me When My Writing Isn’t Good”

All Writers Must Fail

Every single one.

Every time I publish a blog post that doesn’t do well, I give myself 60 seconds to grieve. And then I move on.

If I dwell on the low numbers any longer than that, I start spiraling. And that’s not good for my productivity. Or my sanity.

The truth is this: I do not like to fail. I don’t like how it feels. I don’t like how I perceive myself to look when I fail. I don’t like admitting it yet I don’t like keeping it to myself, either.

As a recovering perfectionist, I still struggle to deal with the negative emotions so often associated with what I prefer to call “missing the mark.”

When we don’t stick the landing or nail the move, when we hit the wrong note, when we end up facefirst on the ground, we don’t just feel embarrassed. We feel frustrated and sad. We think, “I could have done better.” We think, “Why didn’t I do better?”

We wonder: “Should I even bother trying again?”

It doesn’t matter if it’s a blog post or a competition or a math test. Failure hurts. And sometimes the pain and discomfort linger for much longer than we would like them to.

I don’t know you personally. I don’t know your specific circumstances or how failure affects you at an individual level. And I’m certainly no expert when it comes to all things related to self-improvement.

But I do know a thing or two about words. My hope is that some of the ones I share below will help you to deal with your failure in the best way possible. Because the reality is, every writer fails. It’s just what we do.

Continue reading “All Writers Must Fail”

Yes, Your Writing Dreams Are Worth Chasing

It’s easier to believe we will never get where we want to be and quit then it is to believe we will get there someday and work harder.

When you were small, what did you want to be when you grew up?

My answer to this question is multi-layered because I have always wanted to do and be everything all at once — and I still do. At one point I wanted to be an artist, then a dancer, a musician, and I don’t know, at some point the idea of writing for a living came along and I just couldn’t let it go.

But just because I have held onto that dream for a very long time does not mean I am immune to the “what if” moments. You know the ones. The “what if I fail and embarrass myself” moments. The moments when you start to wonder if this dream everyone seems to think you will never reach is nothing more than a total waste of your time.

The good news is, we all experience moments like these.

The bad news is, even the slightest belief that our dreams aren’t worth pursuing is really, really hard to overcome.

The great news? You still can. With a little help (if you want it).

Continue reading “Yes, Your Writing Dreams Are Worth Chasing”