Over the weekend I stumbled upon Jeff Goins’ inspirational guide Every Writer Needs a Tribe. Surprisingly, I think what I gleaned the most from this helpful guide were the sections that weren’t necessarily about finding a tribe to support my writing journey, but tips on how to handle some of the sticky obstacles that I have encountered while pursuing my passion
Accepting my imperfections
In one section of the book, Jeff mentions an aha moment he had when he realized that he was not necessarily the best writer in the world. While this realization may seem disappointing, he also understood that he didn’t need to be a perfect writer to be successful. As a recovering perfectionist, this point really hit home for me. It’s all too easy to get caught in the negative feedback loop of editing your work and feel afraid to release it out into the world because you think it might not be good enough. And if you’re not careful, that little voice in the back of your mind that tells you “You Can’t” will grow louder than the one that tells you that “You Can.” I am not a perfect writer. And that is okay. What I can do is continue to push and improve my craft to the utmost of my abilities. Writing is a never-ending journey that I’m thrilled to have the chance to pursue.
You can please some people sometimes…
As a former perfectionist, another aspect of writing that I have come to accept is the fact that I cannot please everyone. Jeff explains the difference between helpful criticism and unhelpful commentary from “haters.” It’s easy to feel hurt when someone dismisses something that you’ve spent months or even years pouring energy into, but these are not the people that you should be focusing on. Sometimes even the harshest “haters” will have genuine points to make that you can use to improve your writing – or not, since for better or for worse, using criticism is at your own discretion. Instead of taking criticism as an attack on my character, I need to remind myself that criticism is a helpful way to improve my craft.
Remember why I started writing
When times get tough and the right words are hard to come by, sometimes I need to stop and remember why I began to pursue writing in the first place. What make me pick up a pen and paper all those years ago? It wasn’t to please anyone else or out of a hope for fame and fortune. I started writing out of a genuine love for telling stories. I need to remind myself that one rejection or period of difficulty getting my thoughts onto paper isn’t worth giving up on my passion. Even if I have some trepidation about what might happen once I release my stories into the world, fear is not an acceptable reason to hold off on pursuing my dream.
Overall, I found Goins’ book to be exactly what I needed to read at this stage in my writing journey. I would highly recommend it to others as a refresher if you’re ever feeling frustrated about the writing process.