If you’re human, you’re not perfect. I know I’m not. We all have flaws and weaknesses. Just like we have strengths and natural abilities. But the flaws can hinder our writing progress.
Let me illustrate from my own experience with watercolor painting (once again!).
I’ve heard it said, and I agree that any personal weakness an artist has will surface when he tries to paint–and cause problems.
Now me, I can be a bit impulsive. So in the midst of a painting, my intuition can be warning me: Don’t go ahead with that color you just mixed. I can rebel against that inner voice and plunge ahead, usually ruining my painting or often winding up with one just not that good. I’m also a skilled procrastinator–really good 🙂
Maybe at times you doubt you ability as a writer, like on the days when it is not going well at all? Some days nothing goes well. You do have writing ability, by the way. As a micro-minimum you have potential.
Do you procrastinate, finding it hard to get started? I think most of us do, at least at times.
Do you hate proofreading, or editing, or find it hard to freewrite without stopping to edit?
Well, this list could go on and on. But what can we do about it?
I offer a neat, simple, little piece of advise I read several years ago that works well for me:
Watch what you do when you write.
Both the things you do well, and the things you do that hinder. Maybe list them so that your list can act as a reminder. Then work at remembering to do the former and avoid doing the latter. Simple, right? But effective. And at times challenging.
These are habits, both the good and the bad. Bad habits in particular are tough to break free of. We fall into doing them without conscious choice. You have to stay alert to even catch them at times, and it takes work, dsicipline.
And it’s worth the work.
Removing stumbling blocks, or at least avoiding them, can help:
- It can mean more efficient use of your time.
- It can make for a more enjoyable writing experience.
- It may even encourage your muse to drop some exciting new ideas on you–because you’ve escaped a mental block.
- And it might just open you up to new possibilities, directions and insights.
You can also consciously work at strengthening your strengths to advantage.
Ask: “Okay that’s good, but can I make it better?” Write and read a lot. But don’t just write. And don’t just read to learn how other writers write. Both are excellent and oh so needful. But also study, read good books on writing, take courses including those that serve as reminders of what you’ve forgotten to do lately. Practice. Do exercises.
So I think it’s a good idea to pause every once in a while, in our rush to pump out the next great American Novel or that copy that will blow a client’s socks off, to observe what were are going. And ask questions like: “What am I trying to achieve with this piece, anyway?” “Is there a better way to approach this?” Or, “What exactly am I doing here?”
Try this approach. I can mean some breakthroughs.
Just don’t get carried away.