As writers we’re putting ourselves out there. We’re being judged all the time. The lofty perch is that place where the critics reside. They decide which books are “worthy” and which aren’t. It’s the college classroom where professors tell you “what works” and what doesn’t when it comes to writing. It’s the newsroom where someone gets promoted because ‘so and so’ decided this reporter fit a certain mold better than you. It’s those who put down any form of publishing other than the traditional one.
Mostly, though, the writer is her own worst judge and jury . . . whispering . . . what you’ve written isn’t worth anything . . . it isn’t good enough.
My advice: Don’t subscribe to the view that there are only a few lofty perches out there and they’re off limits to you.
No two artists or writers will present a subject the same way and some will take risks with their work. Honoring your vision and motivating yourself to try something new – a different way of telling a story, for example, is what I wanted to achieve in A Portrait of Love and Honor.
I’m pleased when readers give me good reviews. It’s validation of a sort, although a writer can’t live on accolades. Support in the form of a well-written and thoughtful review is inspiring . . . but the confidence a writer needs to move forward has to come from within.
Here’s another thought . . . there’s nothing particularly new about the struggle women historically have had with perfectionism. We talk about this in the Women’s Writing Circle, a group I started to support and engage women to tell and share their stories. Dozens of scholarly articles have been written about the quest for perfectionism.
Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg served as a kind of rallying cry to encourage women to ditch the impossible standards, empower themselves and honor their authentic selves, goals and ideals for living a meaningful life. In terms of writing – it’s important not to concentrate or focus on impossible standards or criteria devised, designed or subscribed to by those with an agenda, political, personal or otherwise.
- Realize the difference between perfection and perfecting something. There is a reason why Navajo weavers purposefully weave a mistake into their work – only God is perfect. (There is no “perfect” pen, no “perfect” desk, no “perfect” manuscript.)
- Honor your voice, your authenticity as a writer who has a unique message and story to tell.
- Take action. Set your intentions by practicing balance and boundaries.
- Commit to writing each day.
- Get rid of the competition inside and outside your head.
- Don’t wallow in negative thoughts or comparisons with other authors.
- Enjoy touting and marketing your work.
- Find a writing group that validates and restores you.
- Believe that you have what it takes to be successful.
How do we move forward with our work?
- When we feel carefree, it opens our creative muse. Be receptive to a willingness to play with words and imagination.
- If the writing isn’t going well or fast, don’t panic.
- If you decide to publish, find a way, however you can.
- Recognize and accept that it’s normal to feel nervous about how your work is received.
- Believe that if you tell a meaningful and truthful story, an audience will read and enjoy your book.
The gifts of writing are abundant. Celebrate and move forward. Allow your own creative wisdom, expression and voice to guide you. Forget the lofty perch and write.