I have always loved reading ever since I was a young girl. Words fascinated me. However, how one was able to weave words and create magic that captures someone’s attention and make them read the entire article, book, or poem was what left me in awe. I never thought that I had it in me. And if you read as vastly as I do, that knowledge gets embedded in your brain that you get paralyzed even to write in your own journal.
So when I dabbed into writing last year, I was so scared. What if people don’t like what I write? What if I get hate comments for my posts or stories? What if nobody reads my work? The questions were endless and answers were far in the horizon.
I started writing clumsily, and as the days went by, I gained traction. Words would flow easily on some days while on others I would stare at my computer with nothing at all to write. Nevertheless, as I wake up each day and write something down…I have learned some lessons along the way that helped me wither the writer’s insecurities along the way. I don’t know for sure if they will sustain me- long term but for now, here is what I know:
1.Writing helps me make sense of the world
In the three decades that I have been allowed to grace the world with my presence, I have experienced a lot of emotions ranging from anger, jealous, envy to love, loss, sorrow, grief and everything in between. Some emotions were too strong for a person like me to cope with but through writing I was able to make sense of everything that I felt and writing the experience down hoping to document the lessons that I have picked from them. Writing provided a platform for me to explore my emotions and deal with my pain or confusion while allowing me to express my creativity too. I just hope that through this, I have also touched somebody and make something click in their life. It’s good to know you are not alone dealing with certain things in life. Other writers have helped me feel less alone, I hope I do the same too to others.
2. Challenges shouldn’t be viewed negatively…Look for the silver lining
If you ask any writer, many are scared of negative feedback- me included. We all want our works to be viewed with awe and positive reviews. The negative comments or rejections hurt our creativity making us feel small- inconsequential. However, it is through the negatives that one can be able to see their blind spots and work on them to become better. Trust me I have learned the hard way that positive reviews- though they make us feel good and validated, won’t help us grow as writers in the long run. Needless to say, the negative comments and the discouraging rejections will shed all the confidence out of you- if you let them. But if you persevere despite them, they will reveal the true artist underneath who will conquer their shortcomings to become better and raw in their craft. So as much as the negatives hurt, appreciate them and look for the silver lining- that is where growth happens.
It’s true that practice makes perfect. So keep writing every day. Write about the mundane and the deep stuff. Write stories about the people surrounding you and the emotions that go on inside of you. Write about love, the injustice of the world and everything in between. The main point is: keep writing. This will allow you to horn your craft and be better every day as a result. Think of a person who diets to lose weight. The work does not end once the weight is off- the main work comes when one has to maintain the ideal weight and be healthy for good. So once you have written your first article or book- the work is to keep writing, and get better. So write. Every day.
4.What happens on drought days?
They will be days when you won’t have anything to write about. Ideas will be scarce and you will struggle with what to put down. On these days, don’t force words out of your already dry brain. Look for inspiration instead. Read books, articles, blog posts and poems; listen to music; travel; talk to people and experience life. This will rejuvenate your brain creating ideas from different angles. Then from there- go back and write some more.
5.This is not a good work at all…
There are days where you will write and cringe when you read everything that you have written. The words will feel ordinary; the work incomplete; the message /story too abstract and you will know deep down this is not the best that can have written. This work is crap- you will tell yourself. When this realization hits you- don’t be too hard on yourself. Save this work into a separate folder- I have this folder and I call it ‘incomplete works’. This means that the idea is there but the execution requires me to sit down first and learn some more or run with it in a different direction. So I don’t dismiss these works and neither should you. Leave them saved until the day when you will be able to complete them in a manner that will be satisfactory to you.
6. Will I make an impact?
Writers shouldn’t cling to the manuscripts that they have created. They should release it to the world. How the world receives the work is not up to them- and I believe nobody has control over that. So create those lovely books, articles, posts, poems and short stories and release them to the world. If you worry too much about the views, the likes and shares- you will be discouraged when the current in those three aspects is against you. Take the creative journey and embrace it, regardless of the outcome. I have never seen anyone guaranteed that their work will change the world or go viral- yet they create and release it to the world anyway. This endurance without certainty will determine who prevails and who gives up- I believe there is a thin line between these two people. Choose to endure and the world will surprise you.
7.Should I stifle my voice?
There are days that I write and get self-conscious about what I have written. What if somebody I know read this? What will they think of me? Majority of people tend to struggle with divorcing the author from his or her work. Many will believe what you wrote is who you really are- deep down. Something that is not always true. Because in writing creativity plays a huge role. As a result of this, many authors will edit their work and re-edit it to ensure that it’s palatable and not offensive. Their raw voices get silenced and what emerges is the watered-down content. I don’t know about you- but I have struggled with this aspect, especially while writing erotica. As writers, we bare our souls in our writing exposing our deep, darkest thoughts and desires- it’s like being naked in front of an audience. This requires bravery. So, the question is; should you stifle your voice? I don’t have a straight answer for you, but I have chosen not to do so with mine. If you are too worried about your voice- then write under a pseudonym. Stifling your voice will result in inauthentic you while many prefers the original, raw and uncut version.