25.8.12

Having the Guts to Write

“And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.” 
― Sylvia Plath



I think it's every author's fear that they aspire to be great and merely turn out mediocre--or even a complete flop. It's my strong belief that one of the ways a writer does not live up to their potential is because they are afraid to push the envelope. 

They're afraid to really write.

The beautiful (and terrifying) thing about writing is that it reveals an author's deepest thoughts. 

As an introvert, when I started writing I thought it was something embarrassing, something to keep to myself, something that I could not be proud of. It's taken me several years to wrestle with this idea that writing is an art which I can fine-tune, which I can practice and which improves most when shared with others. I've been forced to come out of my shell, accept my thoughts, and share them with others.

Sharing your work is a major part of writing. 

Even if you have no publication aspirations, sharing your writing will give you an opportunity to grow and to learn from the reader.

I'm part of an online forum where I share my writing. When I decided to get serious about my craft, stumbling upon this forum was one of the biggest blessings in my life. It not only gave me an outsider's view, another opinion, but it created confidence in me. Other non-biased writers are some of the best places to give and receive feedback from. Even when they did not love what I'd written, there was value in the feedback I received.

Writers take away different things from a book than what a typical reader absorbs. 

Once I took my writing seriously, I know my criticism of other writers intensified. I had always been critical of books, and it's a running joke in my book clubs that I cannot find a book I love. (Although this isn't true--I swear!) But in my forum of writers, I am allowed to be critical. I can tear their writing apart (kindly), knowing that my intention is to help them improve as a writer and to buff and shine their work-in-progress until it glows and I am jealous of what they've written (if I'm not already). And I can be confident that they are doing the exact same to my work.

Other writers have an ability to be honest about the quality of writing that most readers lack. Not to say that getting a non-writer's opinion is not valuable--by all means, it is extremely valuable, since they will be the majority of people reading your book. But a reader tends to take away a general impression, one which removes overall themes and feelings from the book without being able to discern why they love or hate the book. 

A writer, on the other hand, is usually able to pinpoint exactly what makes them feel a specific way in a piece of writing, as well as offering solutions to fix the sentence or piece as a whole. This is invaluable insight into your writing. Insight which you, as the author, are too close to your work to see. 

There comes a time when one must get over their fear of sharing and fear of rejection and share their writing with others. 

Share it in a safe place first. Let your confidence be buoyed--but be realistic about praise if you share only with friends and family who will probably tell you your work is the best they've ever read. Recognize that sharing with a stranger, like in an online forum or a writer's group, can be much more valuable in terms of honesty. And honesty promotes growth.

What it really comes down to is stuffing down your fear and putting yourself out there. 

Take baby steps if you have to, sharing a paragraph or sentence or simply a story idea. Then share more, and share it with a wider range of people. Don't allow yourself to get comfortable in your writing. 

Comfort is the death of growth.

Writers should never stop growing. I don't know about you, but I don't want to be a writer whose first work was just as good as her last. I want to constantly improve, constantly make my writing more valuable, more interesting and more thought-provoking than the last. 

I don't want to remain a static writer. I want to be willing to change, when change is necessary and vital. 

I want to be a writer with the guts to push the envelope.