How to Stall Your Writing Career


Source: flickr Creative Commons

If you’re looking for a guaranteed way to stall your writing career, here it is: Assume the world is awaiting your arrival.

No offense, but most people don’t have a lot of time to waste. They’re busy with work, home and finding themselves. Why should they put your needs ahead of their own? But ‘fess up, you expect them to. And why not? You’re no dime-a-dozen writer. Your work is so brilliant it’s blinding. It will alter the course of the planets. It will skyrocket to the top of best-seller lists. It will be made into a major motion picture and spawn a line of sneakers. It will be remembered for all time.

Now some might say you’re just being a positive thinker, one of those envision-it-and-it-shall-be types. And that’s just fine—in fact, that’s great—if you actually write. Too many writers, however, are so taken with their potential that they fail to live up to it. They’ve scared themselves silly, and as we all know, it’s hard to hold a pen when you’re hands are shaking. It’s just about impossible.

How to get a grip? Give up. Give up this whole notion that you are God’s gift. You’re merely human, and flawed at that, which is great news because your limitations are what allow you to expand. Where you have expansion, you have great writing.

How do you expand? To begin, forget perfection, which is not to say you shouldn’t strive for it. Give your writing your all. That’s all you can do, but it’s a whole lot better than doing nothing.

Go back over your earlier work. Note how your grasp of language has improved along with your ability to craft compelling characters. Give yourself credit for learning how to boil reams of notes into fewer, tauter pages. Celebrate the fact that you are developing a body of work.

Put yourself in good company by reading about the lives of other writers. Pay special attention to how they stayed the course. What were their challenges? How did they break through their blocks, cope with their shortcomings and fears of rejection?

Become more accepting of others. Just because you’re not the center of their universe doesn’t mean you don’t have a place within it. Talk less, listen more. You’re not the only one with talent or vision; you’re not the only one whose hands shake.

Write, even when you’re convinced you’ll never reach your dreams. Write, for there’s no other way to make your dreams come true.

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