He’s scary, he’s twisted, and he’s evil. He shows up in your dreams, your thoughts, and especially in your writing.
“It sucks. You suck. You’ll never get better. Just quit.”
I call this the writing monster. Every writer is plagued by this monstrous being, and most writers don’t know how to defeat it. However, not all hope is lost, here are three ways to beat this monster.
- Never stop reading and writing
It goes to say that the golden rule of writing is to read and write every day. This is exactly what my professor told me to do. Now, I’m going to share a bit of a shameful secret, I still don’t always do that I’m so sorry Dr. Williams! (By the way, here is a link to his blog, he’s a fantastic writer!
But, I’ve learned that the more I read and write, the monster becomes less scary. It’s as if the monster doesn’t want me to follow this golden rule.
2. You need to close the gap
I won’t get into too much about this gap as this graph does an excellent job at explaining it. But, here’s the deal:
Our knowledge of how to write improves at a much faster rate than our actual skill in writing. So, naturally, whenever we write, we hate it. In turn, this creates insecurity as we know that our writing is not as good as it should be.
As the graph explains, a gap between our knowledge and skill is created. It isn’t empty. The writing monster is created here. They are born out of your insecurities, and their goal is pretty simple: make sure you stop writing.
There’s only one way to beat him: read and write every day. As you write more, the gap will eventually close because your skills start to catch up to your knowledge. As this gap closes, the writing monster’s voice quiets down. They will never be silenced, but the voice will be replaced by your confidence.
3. Speak kindly about yourself but don’t settle for less
This one is hard. The writing monster wants you to talk badly about yourself, so you need to fight back by talking kindly to yourself.
Remind yourself that you are a better writer than you were last year and that you are improving every day! But, don’t fall into the trap of only complimenting yourself. You need to look at your flaws in order to know how to improve.
Let me give an example:
My old youth pastor told me about how he and his friends went on a 2-week long hike in the woods. They hiked in 90-degree weather and slept in tents. No A/C and no showers.
When he came home, he took a shower, and as soon as he got out, he said his house smelled like someone died. The stench of his clothes and his backpack were bad, but he didn’t realize this until he got a shower. He became ‘nose-blind’ to his own scent.
In a similar sense, we can become ‘nose-blind’ to our writing when we don’t look for ways to improve. What we regard as ‘quality work’ can be seen by others as ‘less than average.’
Not sure how others view your work? Join a writer’s group! This is the best way to receive immediate feedback! Don’t have a writer’s group nearby? Start one!
The writing monster is certainly scary, but he can be silenced. It may take time but everyone can do it. Don’t get discouraged!