6 Quotes That Will Make You Rethink Your Writing Career
The difficulty is in the mind. It all happens in there. The moment you sit and stretch out your fingers, alarms go off.
Have ideas ready, they said. Brainstorm headlines. Reach out to friends, Quora, or just see what works.
Good writing is the product of good thinking; someone said that. If we can’t write, then maybe we can’t think?
Is it even possible to not think? Probably not.
But it is possible to not think well.
Cortisol levels fueled by deadlines, random events, or our attempts to anticipate life’s dilemmas. It is quite possible that the very act of living makes it hard for thinking to occur as fluidly as possible.
Edit better, they’d say.
You’ve tried it. You written many headlines, many drafts, many half-baked propositions that you cannot bring your soul to read out loud — or quietly.
What can you do then? Or should you now give up on the idea that you can ever write again?
Is it possible to get so down the rabbit hole of procrastination and non-practice that an activity you were once proficient in comes wanting?
Or have others shown the way forward and we’ve not been paying attention?
“We can accuse others, act like a victim, or even let small situations ruin an entire day. But we can also do the opposite by taking responsibility, accepting that shit happened, and embracing life just the way it is.” — Sinem Günel
The book, Extreme Ownership can be summed thus:
Accept you’re responsible for everything that happens, focus on your role in it — then act.
When people say self-improvement doesn’t work, it’s often because the distance between knowledge and action is missing.
How can I take responsibility for not being able to write well?
Well, you’ll have to face the truth.
Did you stop practicing? Did you stop analyzing better writers? Are you stuck in a format that you believe is your style? Are you spending more time researching than writing? Do you rely on ‘talent’?
Taking responsibility is about revisiting your past behaviour instead of blaming it on lifestyle and everything that isn’t working for you.
So, yeah, you could be busier than you were before. You may have fallen into a rut.
But if writing bothers you this much, make time for it. If something nags at you for this long, wouldn’t it be better to address it now?
Why leave the nail in your shoe and limp along cursing the world?
“The key to delayed gratification is being able to fully see and embrace the rewards before you get them and fully see and embrace the downsides of your stagnation if you fail to change.” — Ayodeji Awosika
The Social Dilemma may have sparked an internet consumption revolution, but the effects of immediate hits through swipes wouldn’t just evaporate after a 90 minute viewing.
You may have heard of the cruel Marshmallow Experiment. But you’re not a toddler. And the benefits of your writing aren’t marshmallows.
However, you and I know that your life could be way better if you got your mojo back.
If you don’t consider the consequences of either direction, you may be missing an amazing method to motivate you to do better:
Picture a world where you get to write whenever you want — you write and feel the joy of your clearer thoughts. You communicate with intent and gusto.
Then, imagine the one where your writing is limited to signing bills and rent cheques. Where your thoughts are mush on good days, and chaos on the bad ones.
Can you see where your inability to do the work can lead you?
Painting a detailed picture of your life with or without the skill of writing is a good place to jolt your motivation back. Plus, you’ll need this for the journey ahead. A personal manifesto is powerful.
“Other people’s expectations and opinions are tricky because people are constantly projecting their own internal struggles onto you.” — Christie Alex Costello, MBA
All these thoughts about not being able to write could be reflections from the people around you. Feedback that isn’t discernible from expectations and mind traps to avoid.
On your quest to improve your skill, you need to develop a compass to sieve between people who know what they’re talking about, and those projecting ideals unto you — often without your proper context.
This compass could require a whole book or article. What to keep in mind is :
- Are they living a life you want or admire?
- Have they proven to know what they’re talking about? Are they credible?
- Do they have your best interest at heart?
Notice that all above depend on your perspective. Not theirs. You can’t stop people from giving opinions, ideas, but you can develop your personal filter.
As you question your ability to write based on feedback from others — and yourself — answer the questions truthfully.
- Are you living a life you want — are you competing with ideals contrary to your truth?
- Have you been able to write well in the past — are you ignoring proof of your skill?
- If you were talking to your past self, and you had his/her best interest at heart, what would you advice them to do?
“Dreams are called dreams because most people sleep through the opportunities required to make them become real.” — Nicolas Cole
Ad nauseum, isn’t this? Bears repeating because you know cliches are true.
You might feel like you’ve lost your mojo, but it’s also quite possible that you’re not taking the actions required to get better.
Maybe you need to have a frank conversation with yourself: do you really want to write?
Why is it so important for you to add this time-consuming, challenging, task to your already filled life?
If you never get to the core of your motives for this “love”, then your actions wouldn’t match your aspirations.
I know I want to the freedom to do whatever I want with my time. I also know that I haven't been honest with myself or worked as hard as I could.
Want to write for money? Maybe you need to learn the type of writing that pays and where those people are.
Want to write for the heck of it and just get better? Carve out time to do this consistently and build a proper habit — even if you’re your only reader.
The opportunities to make your dreams are available to you, daily.
Are you going to keep sleeping or take the first step?
“Your aim with your content should always be to help your readers solve a specific problem — that’s what builds audience engagement, loyalty, and purchasing.” — Jon Brosio
Consider the outlandish supposition that you’re not solving anyone’s problem with your writing and your soul knows this.
Consider that the fog you’re feeling; the unwillingness to stretch your imagination — because you aren’t adding value to anyone.
You see, it’s quite possible that you’re feeling what your readers are feeling: the emptiness of purposelessness.
In order to flip this, you need to start addressing problems.
It doesn’t matter if it’s a romance novel or a self-help article: when you go after a problem, that process challenges you to come up with solutions and excites the reader because they’ll get something they needed.
What problem are you addressing?
You don’t need to have a solution before you start. Remember: good writing is the product of good thinking.
Going through the process of figuring things out will bring out gems from you poking the universe. She will poke back.
Even if you feel like you have nothing to offer, you can start finding out what’s already been said and add your spin to it. Question. Refute. Debunk. Expand.
“A great learner views learning material and teachers as tools to help them in their own learning. They consume content at their own pace and make their own learning plans. After all, who knows you more than yourself?” — Danny Forest
You need to take credit for the fact that recognizing these feelings and thoughts is success in itself. The fact that you want to improve at your craft — the very fact that you want more out of life.
You’ve not given up on joy and you’re aware that it will take work.
You’re learning about yourself and you really know what’s best. You can read all the books in the world, buy all the courses, have all the mentors on speed dial.
In the end, it’s back to you, your thoughts and your actions.
Everything you find on your journey to improve, depends on your self-awareness to pace yourself, practice, seek relevant feedback and pursue your goals with consistent fervor.
Sometimes you’ll go slow. Sometimes you’ll speed up. Sometimes you’ll be blindsided by life’s usual distresses.
This is your race. You’ve got this.
If you think your writing isn’t at the level it could be, it’s possible it does. It’s also within your power to rewrite that.
- Take responsibility for your success as a writer, and go after your defined goals knowing that it is well within your power to change your current skill level.
- Understand it will take work to get out of that hole and if you go through the pain of change — if you delay the gratification of things vying for your attention in the now — you stand a better chance to win.
- Clarify where this feedback is coming from and address it head-on. Is this real? Have many readers or editors said basically the same thing? Or is this all in your head?
- Why do you even want this? Because if you keep dreaming about this life but never wake up to make it happen, it won’t. Your actions will speak more than your thoughts on your skill.
- Are you solving a problem? Going after problems opens your mind to the endless possibilities of writing.
- Go at your pace and remember to do what works for you. Self-awareness is key.
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