It’s interesting to see what advice professional writers give to aspiring authors on how to make their writing great.
Write everyday. Practice word sprints. Daydream. Research marketing and business. Network with other authors. The pieces of advice given have helped many people strengthen their art and craft and we can certainly learn from the wisdom of our fellow writers who have more experience than we do.
But the thing I’ve noticed after publishing is that even after doing all these things (all great pieces of advice), I still find myself having days where I feel inadequate or unprepared. When sales slow instead of speed up, when creativity is more of a trickle instead of a fountain, when the project you hoped would be done in a month is only half-way finished three months in. There are just some days where no matter how much advice you’re given, stagnant sales remain stagnant and an empty page remains empty.
Going on eleven years since I started writing The Ripple Affair, I remember hitting a slump that literally took years to get out of. Typically when writer’s block hits, it lasts a few days or weeks. If it’s really bad, it’ll last a few months. Mine lasted about four years. What began as a dream that took up my nights and weekends with pages of productivity suddenly became hours of standing in front of the computer screen watching the cursor blink in a steady rhythm, all the while feeling the frustration build. I’d try to write a page only to get a sentence. I’d try to come up with an idea only to repeat the same, boring scene. It became so persistent that I eventually gave up writing all together, only bothering to write a chapter when the creativity hit.
In those four years, hardly anything was created. And no piece of advice or practice could bring me out of it, save one.
As a writer, self-confidence was something I was never really taught much about in school. When I learned to write, it was all about talent and knowledge and remembering where the comma goes or what conjunction works best. Writing became like singing-either you had it or you didn’t-and there was this idea that I developed, thinking that if the talent didn’t flow easily and I struggled to find something to write, then I wasn’t a writer.
So when my writer’s block hit after five years of productivity, I felt like whatever talent I had was suddenly thrown out the window.
I’m thankful that I can say I have a mother who sat me down and encouraged me to not give up on my dream, even though it seemed like it gave up on me. “Believe in yourself. Don’t give up,” she encouraged. And even though I didn’t want to believe her, I forced myself to listen. “Ideas will come in time. You just have to be patient.” It was the last thing I wanted to hear, but in the end, she was right. Ideas eventually came. Patience proved fruitful.
I can now look back at those four years as the most transforming time in my writing career. Yes, it was frustrating. Yes, it was long. Yes, it made me feel like the worst writer in the world. But it taught me perseverance. It taught me that there is strength in believing in yourself.
When I talk with other people about writing, I usually get this response: “I want to write, but…” What follows is a list of excuses. “I’m not that good at it.” “I don’t know what to write.” “My grammar is terrible.” “People say I’m not good at writing.” Their insecurity stops them, paralyzing whatever dream they had and keeping it from coming forth. And this doesn’t just apply to writing. I’ve seen many talented people-singers, preachers, teachers, actors, businessmen/businesswomen-not even take a chance because they didn’t think they could do it. How many van Gogh’s no longer paint? How many Beethoven’s no longer compose? How many Shakespeare’s no longer write? Lack of talent isn’t the killer of creativity. Insecurity is.
We all have a dream. We all have a desire within us to do something meaningful with our lives. But too often life gets in the way and tries to stifle that dream. Too often people speak defeat into our talents when they should be speaking victory. But whether our dream has a chance to become reality is left to us. We are the ones who take the first step. We are the ones who take the leap of faith and persist through all the struggles and doubts. We are the ones who determine whether our dreams remain in our hearts or become a part of our lives.
All it takes is a little self-confidence to see it through.
A few little announcements before I end this post:
- I’m now on Twitter! Feel free to follow me @erincruey and stay up to date on book announcements or general attempts at comedy. My Twitter page is also on my blog so you can see it from the Home Page, too.
- Reign of Change, also known as Book Two in The Ripple Affair Series, is in the final editing stages and will be available very soon! You can check out the cover on my Books page (just click on the Books tab on my website).
That’s all for now. Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!