Okay, my perfectionist friend, you think your writing isn't good enough, and that's how you ended up on this page.
You spend your waking hours transforming ideas, thoughts, and characters into words on a page. You've shut out all distractions, designed a comfortable space to write, and set aside a specific time to write each day.
Some days it's 500, some days 1000, and some days 2000 words or more. You love writing. It's what you've enjoyed the most since you were a kid in elementary school.
But now you're an adult, and you've lost the courage you had when you were a kid. You find finishing a piece of writing brings another challenge with it.
You think your writing isn't good enough. Your doubt grows until you start believing you should stop sharing what you've written in public. Maybe write for yourself, or quit altogether.
What would you say to yourself if you weren't you?
Perception is everything. Is the place you're standing the best for making judgments about your writing?
Imagine you're not you, but someone whose role is to be positive and helpful so that you continue writing.
What would you say to yourself?
"Give up and quit already."
"You should be ashamed of your writing. Whatever you do, don't publish that for anyone to see. Keep it for your eyes only."
"Your writing sucks, big time. You should take that pencil and poke your eyes out right now."
If you weren't you, you'd never say things like that to yourself, would you? No way, José.
So why is your self-talk like that?
What would you say to yourself if you weren't you? It would sound more like this.
"You're doing a great job. Well done, and keep it up."
"How many years have you been writing? Since elementary school? Wow! That's longer than I've been alive. I've got a lot to learn from you."
"Okay, I get it that you're not thrilled with this piece. What do you think you can do to improve it? If you were going to offer positive and helpful advice to yourself, what would that sound like?"
Do you get it? Your number one, most vocal, and harshest criticizer isn't anyone in your audience. It's you.
If you weren't you, how would you encourage and support yourself so that you don't give up and quit?
You wouldn't be so harshly critical, would you? Nope. You'd be positive and helpful so that you would have the inspiration to keep on writing.
With that in mind, share with yourself two positive things about your writing and one helpful tip for improvement. Do that right now, before you read on.
Think your writing isn't good enough? Remember: it's a marathon, not a sprint.
You're in this for the long-term. Becoming a better writer, even a great writer, takes a long time and tons of practice. It doesn't involve giving up and quitting.
Becoming a great writer is a long-distance race, not a sprint. In a marathon, a runner who stumbles and falls flat on her face can still get up. She can continue on the course and eventually win. That's the beauty of running a marathon.
A runner who trips and falls in a sprint has no chance. It's over, at least for that race.
Developing your writing skills is a marathon. It's a long-distance race you can win if you don't give up and quit.
Would quitting make you feel better about yourself?
Is quitting going to help you build endurance, resilience, and patience? Will it help you be a better writer?
Think your writing isn't good enough? Define "good enough."
You can't define good enough because it's an ambiguous term. Who decides? If not you, then me? If not you and I, then who?
Shakespeare? He's dead.
J.K. Rowling? No idea because I've never read one of her books.
John Grisham? He's sold millions of novels, and I've read a good number, but some of them aren't very good. That's my opinion, and he still gets millions of dollars to write books regardless of what I think.
The fact is, your writing will never be good enough because a perfect writer doesn't exist, and even the best writers in the world don't appeal to everyone.
I like Tom Clancy's books. But I know there are lots of folks who'd never enjoy his writing, and that's okay.
Think your writing isn't good enough? Do this.
First, stop telling yourself, right now, that it isn't, and keep on writing.
Second, admit out loud that there's no such animal as a perfect writer. Even your favourite writers are imperfect at their craft.
Third, curb your perfectionism. If you're excited about the topic, have done sufficient - not exhaustive - research, and have some expertise in the area you're writing about, start writing and don't stop until done.
Fourth, the word count doesn't matter. Providing something valuable and practical for your readers is what matters, and if you achieved that in 500 words, good on you. End right there, edit a little, and hit publish.
Now go and enjoy the rest of your day. You're a writer, and if there's one thing being a writer means, it's this: you have the freedom to use your time as you see fit.
I would love to know how this post helped you. Please leave a comment.
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