Saturday, February 28, 2009

It's All About Trust

Sometimes it’s hard to believe in our writing or that it will amount to anything but a bunch of messy pages nobody would even use for kindling. We’ve all had those days or months when we feel like giving up, ripping to pieces every draft we’ve ever written, deciding that we’re really best suited to being “readers” rather than “writers.” Yet no matter how seriously I may contemplate that possibility, I never feel any better after telling myself, “You’re right! Quit while you’re ahead—who wants to be a writer anyway??” Rather than feeling relieved (“Oh, good, I can go eat bon-bons and re-read The Eight for the umpteenth time) I always feel much, much worse. What’s even more annoying is that the only way to seriously feel better is to go write something!

After squirreling through this kind of burn-out more times than I can count, I’ve finally realized that what it all comes down to is trust; total trust that no matter how scary or frustrating or even boring writing can be, it’s what I like to do best in the whole world and it will always be there for me. The other day I made a list of what I’ve learned about writing and trust:

  • Trust that when it comes to your own writing, only you can know what’s “right for you.”
  • Trust “happy accidents.” Typos or omissions can turn into whole new phrases or ways of looking at a paragraph or character from a fresh perspective.
  • Trust that all writing is fixable—no matter how extreme the “mistake.” Every piece of writing contains a nugget of gold.
  • Trust that there is always someone who will want to read your work.
  • Trust that you can always publish the writing you believe in.
  • Trust that weird twist you feel when you just know something in a sentence or scene feels “off.”
  • Trust that the right words will come to you to make it all better.

While you’re at it, consider the concept of “distrust.” For instance,

  • Distrust the voice that says your writing is “bad.”
  • Distrust the critique group member who always, always tells you you’re “wrong.”
  • Distrust perfectionism.
  • Distrust anything that makes ready excuses for why you can’t write today.

But more than anything, trust that if you’ve ever felt even the smallest urge to write, paint, draw, dance, sing, sculpt—it is a genuine call from your creative spirit! Never ignore the call.

Tip of the Day: Stop what you’re doing and sit down with pen and paper. Trust that the words will come. Start by writing the first word that comes into your head. Then another. And another… See? It’s really that simple. Trust simplicity.

3 comments:

Charlotte Fairchild said...

I have been wanting to write poetry all afternoon! Meet me in Paris with Madeline had a line in it: "Don't believe the critics!" or was it "Don't listen to the critics!"?

valeriestorey said...

The Madeline books were among my absolute favorites! Whichever quote it was, or both, Madeline had it right (as usual!). Thanks,Charlotte.

valeriestorey said...
This comment has been removed by the author.