Those who don't know what it's like to be a writer can't understand the struggle of writing when you hate it, curse it, and even find it miserable.
"Why are you torturing yourself?"
They may not say it aloud, but it's in their eyes. In fact, I've even asked myself the same question. Didn't I start doing this becasue I love it? So why am I still here when I feel like everything I write is contrived and meaningless?
Usually when I come to that point (becasue I've come to that point a lot) I step away and scrutinize. I have to ask myself how it would feel to quit trying.
My answer always starts out cynical. "Wouldn't that be freeing?", "Geeze that sounds wonderful." But when I take more than five seconds to think about it (and I always do, becasue I think about writing a lot) I come to the conclusion that I wouldn't be satisfied with myself if I quit.
I feel like I'm meant to do this writing thing. Like God gave me the gift of writing for a reason. That's not to say I think I'm amazing, just that I was born with the desire to be a writer and fortitude to follow it through. I truly believe God's given everyone something like that, if not more than one something. But that's a different blog post.
One of things that's held me back for so long is the feeling of inadequacy. Not being good enough, not having a perfect story, perfect grammar etc. but I discovered something in my time away from blogging.
All those feelings are wrong.
Yes. There are critics. There always will be. My writing is not something everyone will enjoy or love, but does that mean I'm not good enough? I've been consistently working on and improving my writing for three years. I had to have made some progress in that time.
It's not easy to see people I started writing with (i.e. Cassie Mae-love you sissy!) have so many books out and have a margin of success I think is unachievable for myself.
Frankly, those thoughts take the fun right out of writing.
Why is it we're so ready to focus on the negative when there are countless others cheering us on?
Yesterday I had a girl tell me I was her favorite author. She read my drivel that I wrote purely for FUN. I didn't even do a serious edit. I re-read the first chapter of a story she'd seen and inwardly cringed. I had to laugh becasue it seemed like she's gone crazy.
It took me a few hours, but I realized I was criticizing a positive note on my writing. No wonder putting pen to paper tortures me so much.
The first time I posted a fanfic online I got one negative comment. It was in the middle of a story and I'd gotten hundreds of likes, even more views and a generous helping of encouraging comments. One person. One. They said a simple thing:
"Worst POV character, ever."
I believed them. After all the praise, all the love, I believed this one person who had nothing constructive whatsoever to say about my writing. What did that even mean? Were they mad it was in first person? Did they hate my voice, or did they not identify with the character?
Yet, I can't believe someone who tells me they enjoy my stories.
Writing isn't fun anymore when I've gotten so focused on improving myself I no longer see the good in it.
If you're feeling the same as me, here's a challenge:
I dare you to write something, just for fun. It doesn't have to be long. Then post it online. Let people read it. Then take all the compliments. Ignore the haters. Find your writing balance again. Discover the reason you took the first step, and don't let negativity slow you down.
That's it. The truth is, writing isn't just fun. Fun is good. But writing is about saving your own soul. It's about sharing stories so others can find strength, and truth, and courage.
Writing is freedom.