Friday, 20 May 2011

Remember it's the future; Stop pretending you're not special for a moment

Writers - particularly those of us who have decided to be through-and-through indie - spend a lot of time listening to people cut us down, knock us back and try to crush our hopes. This is a valuable service; it lowers our expectations and cuts down on those pesky dreams of megabuck-success that can lead to all sorts of inadvisable behaviour.

It can get a bit wearing, though. You never get to hear other people talking about the good side of the writing coin. Every positive sentiment you feel for your writing has to come from within. Well, I'm going to be a bad friend for a little while and indulge in a little bit of cheerleading and positivity. Here's an open letter to any writer who's currently feeling snowed under by negativity or just generally depressed about their writing. Before you throw up your hands and burn all your work in frustration, read this - I'm sure I'll be reading it myself before next week is through..

(Health warning; I'm going to wax a little bit lyrical and gush a little bit melodramatic. Those of you of a more prosaic (the polite word is 'pragmatic') bent may wish to steer clear ;D)

Dear frustrated writer,

Stop pretending you're not special for a moment. A writer is an amazing creature. You can hold whole worlds in your head (and yes, the world you hold in your head might be this one, or even only a small part of it, but it's still there, and it's still a marvellous thing).

We spend a lot of time being modest and humble, affecting mild embarrassment when we receive compliments. We work on our self-deprecating humour, particularly on Twitter (where we spend much of our time being nice about each other, and possibly slightly jealous of how much cooler than us all our friends are and this sentence suddenly went to a more introspective place than I expected....) because it mitigates the slightly spammy effect of all that talking we do about our novels. We fight hard to maintain a sense of perspective about our work so that we don't all disappear up our own backsides.

Humility is ennobling; self-deprecation is a great strength of character; perspective is the most valuable sense. None of that means that all the humble, self-deprecating things you say to yourself to keep a sense of perspective are true. None of it means you should let the negatives get on top of the positives. Don't let the negatives get you down.

Don't get discouraged just because of all the time you spend discouraging yourself. The negatives serve a useful purpose, but it's all too easy to get too wrapped up in them and lose track of all the incredible stuff that happens in your head on a daily basis.

I guess what I'm saying is stick with it. The negatives aren't there to stop you, they're there to help you. If they're not helping, lay them aside (easier said than done, I know) until you need them again. All these knock-backs are tools, and if a tool is stopping you working you put it down.

Writers are amazing creatures. You can hold a whole world in your head. Don't stop writing for the wrong reasons.

Right, I'm going back to the world in *my* head for a bit.

Love, Rik

1 comment:

  1. This was a very good letter :) thanks for that ... you made me feel better (and I wasn't even feeling down in the first place)