I’ve been thinking a lot about advice for writers in the last week. What is advice I would have wanted? Needed?
I’m about to give you unconventional advice – something that you won’t hear from many other writers but something that is probably the most important thing – the KEY to really loving and enjoying writing (or really any work that has judgment or recommendation built into its structure).
First, before you do anything, spend a still quiet moment and ask yourself these questions:
Does this light up my heart? If no, then stop writing. You’re wasting your time. Figure out what lights your heart and go do that instead. If yes writing does light your heart, then continue.
How key is this to my career? If the answer is “very important” or “it is my career,” then proceed to the next item. If the answer was “not important,” then re-evaluate and spend some time on what is central to your occupation.
If you got this far, congrats! You’re a writer! Woohoo!
Now do this: if you have ANY moment in time where you were humiliated, shamed, or felt guilty – any memory that twists your gut or constricts your chest, where you repeatedly beat yourself up – think of them, one at a time. When you do, say to yourself aloud (or in your head): I forgive you. Oh, and this is important – mean it.
This is the first step to becoming bulletproof when it comes to reviews. The second part is a little more involved.
Get a mirror and look at yourself in the mirror – look into your eyes and say this (and mean it): I love you. I really love you. [your name] I really love you.
If that feels like it’s too much, change it to “I’m willing to love you” until it feels like you can move on to the stronger statements.
Do that a few times a day (for a total of 5 minutes daily) for a week and see what happens. Whatever feelings this brings up, it’s fine. It’s going to be emotional. Maybe it makes you cry at first. Maybe it makes you giggle. Whatever happens, it’s fine. It’s good.
I’m telling you to do these things because I want you to spare yourself some pain. A lot of people talk about the rejection associated with writing and how painful that can be. It can really impact your self-worth. It can send you into a spiral of self-doubt and despair, but it doesn’t have to.
The above steps are a way to help you recognize the value of your creative voice regardless of feedback. Positive feedback is great, and it’s good to get it, but everyone won’t like your work. Negative feedback is part of the process, and it’s important to remember it doesn’t take away from the worth of your work. Your writing has inherent value in being. You’ll never know exactly how things will impact others, but it will. Just writing the words changes reality as we know it.
That’s pretty amazing.
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