This is a fraught subject for me because I hold it very, very close. I can write. I'm very comfortable with the fact I can, but I'm also keenly aware that it's my one thing, the one skill I have, and that makes me jealous and likely to overreact and over-think. Every young female writer around the place who wins an award, or gets something published, or gets some form of attention causes me to shrivel into a pile of seething envy.
This is most likely my least positive personality trait, though thankfully it's pretty restricted to writing. I'm also self aware enough to know it's because I'm insecure about my ability to finish things, as opposed to my actual ability. Case in point - I've been writing a sprawling fantasy epic since I was 14. FOURTEEN. For half my life this thing has been underway, and I am desperate to finish it. But every time I go back to edit an earlier passage I instead end up rewriting huge chunks. It's my Frankenstein's Monster, and I adore it, but it will not resolve itself.
The one thing I do do well is have a consistent output. I'm always writing, whether it's a blog post or an article for Fruitless Pursuits or a book review for Viewpoint or an article for Wellness WA are whatever. I'm always working on something, and having before gone huge chunks without writing I can safely say that this is a big tick in my favor. When you stop writing, that particular muscle atrophies. Writing becomes problematic. You start over-thinking and it makes the act of writing crippling. This is why I started this blog, really - because I wanted to have something to force me to write, if not every day, then every second day or so. And it works. I can sit down and churn something out without it occurring to me that I Am Writing.
There's a small handful of things I've gathered as I've meandered along that I wish someone had told me, and thus I'll pass them on.
- Never read writing manuals or how-to books. They encourage the over-thinking, which is bad news. And yes, I'm aware of the irony of telling you this while dishing out writing tips.
- READ. Read all you can. The more you read, the better your writing will become. Read eclectically and often. Get thee to Goodreads.
- Every day. Doesn't matter if it's a Sophoclean epic or a dirty limerick. Just write something.
- You will not like your own writing. This is a sad truth. It'll never sit quite right for you, you'll never shake the feeling that you could probably do better. This is what makes us push to try and improve, which is not a bad thing. But it is frustrating.
- Beautiful notebooks are all very well and good, but they are also intimidating. You'll do yourself a favor arming yourself with some basic Spiraxes, or if you're feeling artsy, some Rhodias.
Most people can write, to some extent, but have convinced themselves that this isn't the case. Whilst self-awareness is all well and good, talking yourself out of a talent that is immensely useful to have is detrimental. If you have concerns about your writing, then read it out. You'll start to pick up the cadences and patterns that come to natural speech and it'll help you a lot. And above all else, read read read. I can't pick a noun from a pronoun to save my life, but I can "feel" when a sentence is built wrong, and when you've read widely you'll start doing the same.
Want to have a shot at this topic? PLEASE do. And link it in the comments so I can go see.
(All images from Love For All Bears - which is wonderfulness)