The hardest thing to do is to be kind to your creations; it’s a part of the creative condition to constantly find fault in your work. This keeps the creative process rolling, sure, and it, arguably, is what makes good writing great, but I know from experience it can make you unbelievably unhappy.
For a while I was on the verge of giving up; what was the point if I could find nothing to be proud about in my own work?
That’s when it hit me; you don’t need to think your work is perfect to find things to love in it. You don’t need to get published to be a good writer (thought if you are, and you persevere common sense dictates that eventually you will be). Here are 5 ways to find joy and satisfaction in your writing;
- Don’t hoard your time; there’s a danger, when you write for fun as well as for your living (hopefully, and that danger is that you will spend all day every day glued to a screen, hoarding your time like a miser, fearful that you “won’t get it done”. I honestly believe that this contributes to the lack of satisfaction with the finished product… if you’re spending all your time working on something there’s a reasonable expectation that its going to be pretty special, right? Well, not necessarily; you need to live to write, and you need to spend some of your time on friends and family (and YOU). When writing, your writing, isn’t the only thing of meaning that you spend a lot of time and effort on the imperfections seem less soul crushing.
- Throw away perfection; the concept of the perfect short story, poem, or book is a devil of a thing to grapple with as a writer. Get rid of it, and accept that there is such a thing as “good enough”. You will write hundreds of scenes, poems, chapters, and stories in your life; it is a process of continual improvement, and (this is the key bit) there’s nothing wrong with that.
- Stop nagging yourself; don’t persecute yourself for being human. If you make a mistake you make a mistake, if you sleep in you sleep in, if your story is bad it’s bad, and there’s nothing you can do about it after the fact. When you find yourself beating yourself up take a deep breath and make a point of listing the things you have done well, the things about your story that you do like, and if there’s honestly nothing then cut your ties with the story and be rid of it. Then move on.
- If it’s worth writing, it’s worth writing badly; this seems very much like an amalgamation of everything that came before, but it is different. This is about accepting the gauntlet, so to speak, and throwing away self-pity. If a story rattles hard enough in your brain it deserves writing, and if it deserves writing you need to write it in the way only you can. If that means its a hot mess to begin with then that’s not terrible; pass it through the crucible, and when the impurities flake away you might just have something extraordinary.
- Scream; shout, let it all out, do the maca-fucking-rena and shake it all about. If the frustration hits too hard don’t bite your tongue. Delete that document, throw the pillow, swear, drink, smoke, get off – whatever your stress valve is just let it do its work. You don’t have to be flawlessly witty and clever all the time.
If you’ve got any suggestions let us know in the comments!