Find Value in Your “Mistakes”

There are two types of writers–the ones who hate their work immediately, and the ones who hate their work eventually. Either way, it’s inevitable that at one point or another, you’ll read back what you’ve written and think, “what was I thinking?” and “who let me call myself a writer?” and “thank goodness no one will ever read that.” It’s tempting to want to build a fire right there on the desk and watch all evidence of such a tragedy go up in smoke, but before you start searching for the matches, here are a few things to think about.

They All Wrote Crap Once Too

J.K. Rowling, Tolkien, Shakespeare, Franzen–If you think any one of them simply pulled a pen out one day and began to write life-changing prose, you’re sadly mistaken. Every single writer who has ever dared to call themselves such started out as a begginer. They wrote in passive voice, they had love affairs with adverbs, and they used “cajoled” instead of “said.” But they grew to be more than that, and with practice, so will you.

It’s All a Learning Experience.

Writing isn’t one of those activities in which you can read ten books on how to do it and then expect to sit down and write a New York Times Bestseller. The reason is because learning is a left-brain activity. Writing is a right-brain one. As soon as you pull up that Word document, your brain switches and all the “rules” you know are blocked off behind a wall. Great writing is a habit. The rules begin to seep into your subconscious only by doing it over and over again until it happens almost without you knowing.

Negative Self-Talk Only Breeds More Negativity

I know, this one is a little deep for a writing blog but it’s true. Keep telling yourself you’re a horrible writer and guess what, you will be. No one ever shined up an old penny by throwing more dirt at it. Empower yourself to be more, to be bigger, to be greater. None of the greats had anything you don’t have. We’re all people with a dream, just the same. We all come into the game with the same tools. The only thing stopping you from being as amazing as your favorite authors is you.

Everything Can Be Edited

And as long as you keep writing, you’re going to keep getting better, which means this manuscript will be better than your last and your next one will be better than this. If a piece isn’t as polished now as you’d like it to be, set it aside and know that in a year, you can always come back to it as a more experienced writer and give it another shot. Give yourself permission to take the time you need to learn.

It isn’t easy to read your own work coming from a place of appreciation–taking the negative route seems to come much more naturally–but the next time you feel the overwhelming urge to take your latest story by the hand and lead it into oncoming traffic, take heart and know there are three things you can count on. 1) We’ve all been there. 2) We’ll all be there again. 3) You will get better. Then, use that energy to fuel your desire to grow and keep on writing.

Photo by Turinboy

I am an author and a writing business teacher. I am also a mother of two, a wife, a businesswoman, a nature-lover, and a wannabe yogi. My debut women's fiction novel, PERFECTLY UNDONE, will be released on October 3, 2017. Here, I blog about my journey in publication in the hopes of inspiring others to follow their own dreams.

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Comments (6)

  1. You are so right about hate it now or hate it later. Now I understand why some authors never go back to read their published books. Wasn’t it Nora who said “You can’t edit a blank page.” But, I truly prefer your advice to write/edit from a place of appreciation. Much better stuff ends up on the page. Thanks for a thoughtful post.

    1. Thanks, Joan! I don’t think I could ever go back to reread my published story either. All I would see was all the things I “should” have changed. Lol!

  2. As I’m emerging from the “you call yourself a writer?” mode, this is such a thoughtful and meaningful blog. Thank you for these wise and what should be but are often not, obvious words of wisdom!

  3. Thanks for this! We writers can never get enough encouragement, no matter what stage we are! I had a moment of reflection… on the journey to my first publication, I kept changing my benchmark of what defined me as a ‘real’ writer. In chronological order, my inner monologue went something like:

    “I’ve finished a story! I’m a real writer now.”

    “My story has been accepted by a magazine! I’m really a proper writer!”

    “I’ve been paid for my work! Today, I have become a real writer.”

    “My work has gone to print and will be read by everyone! I’m NOW a real writer!”

    And so on. I started to wonder if I’d ever get used to the fact that from the moment I started putting down words that inspired me, I have been a real, bona fide, true-to-goodness writer. The rest that comes from that are the yummy toppings 🙂

    1. That sounds all too familiar, Ekari! Lol! I guess it’s a good thing that writers are always striving for more as long as we understand being a writer is a journey, not a destination. 🙂

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