What Holds You Back

by Costin Thampikutty-from FlickrAmong all the reasons that people give themselves for not writing, zero of them are accurate.  Think carefully, and you’ll see that they stand on very weak ground.

  • I suck at writing.
  • I’ll get rejected.
  • My friends and family will think it’s stupid.
  • I don’t have any good ideas.
  • People will criticize me.
  • I’m not a writer.
  • Writing is something other people do.
  • You can’t make a living from it.
  • I don’t want people to see that side of myself.
  • It’s hard.
  • I’m not good enough to be a pro.

If you think this was a nasty list to read, then imagine the damage you do when you tell yourself these things.  They are things that many people tell themselves, including myself.

So, let me speak to some of these demons.

I suck/I don’t have good ideas/I’m not a writer/It’s something other people do

You’re not giving yourself enough credit.  A writer once told me, “If you write, you’re a writer.”  It’s really as simple as that.  If you write with the slightest regularity, then you’re a writer.  If you write to sort out your ideas for a blog post or a book, then you’re a writer.

And telling yourself that you suck is awfully harsh.  Nobody is great when they first start.  Read the first novel of any well-known author and consider how they’ve grown in their craft.  It takes practice and persistence.

My friends and family will think it’s stupid/People will criticize you/I don’t want others to see that side of myself

Chances are very good that your friends and family will think it’s cool that you’re a writer.  I am very lucky to have friends and family, who support what I do.  If your loved ones are supportive of you in general, then chances are good they will support your writing.  They will gush with praise when they hear what you’re doing.

But if you’re unsure, start with the people you trust first.  Talk to the people whom you trust and grow your circle from there.

I can’t make a living from it/I’m not good enough to be a pro.

Slow down there, champ.  Nobody expects you to be a millionaire.  Many, many people write and don’t make a living from it.  They do it, because they can’t imagine their lives without the practice.

Write for it’s own sake, not for recognition or notoriety.  Consider what your intentions are.  Are there ideas you want to express, or is there a story you want to tell?  You can’t go wrong if you write for the love of writing.

I’ll get rejected.

Yes, you will.  Over and over again.  But this is normal, so don’t feel humiliated when something you submitted is turned down.  Everyone gets rejected many times.  Then they are published, and they get rejected some more.  Embrace the failure, learn from it, and it won’t cripple you.

It’s hard.

It sure is.  And what better way to see what you’re made of?

This is just fear talking.  Examine these lines closely, and you’ll see that they’re not based on logic or reason.  They’re based on fear and avoidance.

At lease try.  Don’t be bested by the fear.

What holds you back?


2 Comments Add yours

  1. Mostly what holds me back is comparing myself to really good writers. There is this feeling like other people can do it so much better why even try. What do I have to contribute to the conversation?

    Thanks for the post.

    1. wordsavant says:

      Great question. It’s so easy to compare ourselves to other writers. We see how well they write or how successful they are, and we tell ourselves that we can’t measure up. When I think about the highs and lows of being a writer, this is definitely one of the lows.

      It can feel that way on days when we have a blah-feeling about our writing, when a submission is turned down, or when no one reads our blog. Each of us does have something to contribute and has a unique voice. But the magic doesn’t happen every day. Keep at it, and keep doing what you’re doing and you’ll find your place.

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