Hundreds of blog posts preaching goal-setting methods for writers have appeared the last weeks. They expound many of the same things, the obvious old-hats we read every year. I wrote such a blog post at the end of 2015.
Many of the suggestions are sensible and will help, but they all miss (or glaze over) the one problem all writers share, beginners and professionals alike.
The problem often ignored is all in your mind.
There lay the subterfuge needling the will to write, punching holes in plot developments, and pushing over cardboard characters like props on a stage.
Writers wear three hats: creator, reader, editor.
The problem writers share is confusing the third hat (editor) with one that should have never been bought, and certainly not worn—the critic hat.
The critic is the voice in your head that tells you writing is a waste of time. The critic is a sneaky bastard, the master of clichés, whispering “that’s been done a hundred times” or “nobody wants to read what you have to say” or “you will never have the necessary skills.” In effect, the critic is a doubter, a wet-blanket, a party-pooper, a liar.
That is not to say you should not be critical of your writing. Taking a critical approach to your prose (word choice, sentence structure, plot, character, etc.) is an essential aspect when wearing the editor’s hat.
The difference between the two? The editor is analytical, the critic is emotional (with a heavy dose of negativity). Adopting the editor and denying the critic is a matter of changing your attitude.
The problem I vow to master in 2017 is Mind-Set. It will take effort, and quite a few reminders throughout the hours and days ahead while hunched over my keyboard.
I have hung on my study wall two reminders that I am a writer: a copy of The Accomplice, my published short story, and the acceptance letter.
Those are my reminders. Yours might be a favorite quote from a published author or simply the words I AM A WRITER above the monitor. Perhaps you are not quite so bold, so you have inspiration on a wall to your side, or maybe on a wall behind which forces you to swivel in your chair when attacked by doubt.
Be bold, and go where you have never gone before—place your inspiration where you can readily view it as a constant reminder of what you wish to become. What, no inspirational reminder? Find something and make it your own.
Repeat after me:
I am a Writer.
Because I am a writer, I write whether convenient or not, regardless of my mood.
My skills will improve if I write; whining about why I can’t write makes me a better whiner. Effort extended will make me better at what I spend my time doing. Better Writer or Better Whiner? I Decide.
Know this: you have the skills to succeed, and any problems or mistakes in your writing can be fixed. Now go write, and become what you are destined to be.
See you on the next page,