The One Thing You’re Doing to Block Your Writing Success

Most of us have two identities inside that are struggling for domination.

There is the potential person that we would like to be, and there is the person in the present, which we see ourselves as every day.

Depending on how satisfied you are with your life, the gap between your present and your potential can vary widely.

This gap shows up when other people ask us about ourselves. What do you do? What are your plans for the future? What have you been up to lately? These types of questions often trigger a conflict between the two identities inside us.

That’s when you hear yourself telling someone, “Well, I’m a writer…or, uh, aspiring writer, I guess.” Or, “I’m writing…trying to anyway.” Or you hide behind a simple “Not much” or “Nothing” when that someone asks you what you’ve been doing and you change the topic back to them.

When you waffle on owning your identity as a writer, or you treat your writing projects as if they’re unimportant, you tell others that you are not taking yourself, or your writing, seriously.

You are also telling your current reality what you see of yourself in the present, and what you expect from yourself in the future.

If you want to adjust your potential reality you have to pay attention to what you’re saying about yourself right now.

You’re a writer. You know the power of words. You get why some phrases charge into a room and take over, and why others go pale and limp, fizzling out on the page. You understand the difference between “maybe”, “sort of”, “um, I guess…” and “yes”, “I want to”, and “I’m doing it.” You recognize the impact of making the shift from shrinking into the corner of your emotional room, to walking through it with pride.

When someone asks you about yourself or your writing, listen to what you hear yourself telling them.

The same goes for written communication. What are you writing about yourself in emails to other people? What are you posting about yourself on Facebook? You only have 160 characters to describe yourself on Twitter, what are you using that precious space to convey?

It’s up to you to pursue your potential. You don’t have to wait for someday. Start being the person you want to be in this moment. Yes, you will feel nervous and possibly uncomfortable saying, “I am a writer” or sharing your excitement about your current project. You might even feel like a fraud or an imposter. But keep going with it, keep pushing on through.

Start talking about the person you see yourself becoming.

It’s only a matter of time before reality catches up.

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18 Comments

  • Reply Margit Sage 18 November, 2013 at 10:01 am

    Great post! I will try to pay more attention to the way I describe my writing from now on. I’m generally excited, but I think my fears sometimes do prod me to hedge.

    • Reply Lauren Sapala 18 November, 2013 at 11:02 am

      I’m generally excited too, but then I tend to back off quick when I hear myself outside of my own head. I’m working on phasing out the “maybe” and moving into YES.

  • Reply marymforbes 18 November, 2013 at 10:27 am

    Thank you. I’m one of those ‘not much’ people, yet I am struggling every day with my writing. I will have to remember I AM A WRITER.

    • Reply Lauren Sapala 18 November, 2013 at 11:03 am

      You definitely ARE a writer Mary. Say it loud and proud!

  • Reply Setsu 18 November, 2013 at 11:23 am

    Love this. Expands way out beyond the scope of writerhood.

  • Reply Daniela Ginta (@DanielaGinta) 18 November, 2013 at 11:39 am

    Thank you Lauren, great post. I agree, the words we hear coming out of our mouths make a huge difference. They initiate a train of events and reactions that reach us in more than one way :-), so they’d better be positive and uplifting.

  • Reply Phillip McCollum 18 November, 2013 at 12:33 pm

    Great post, Lauren. It’s not easy to say you are what you wish to become, but as you say, “it’s only a matter of time before reality catches up”

    • Reply Lauren Sapala 18 November, 2013 at 3:53 pm

      Sometimes the hard part is waiting for it to do just that…

  • Reply Catherine North 18 November, 2013 at 1:37 pm

    I think I must be a writer because the alternative is that I’ve spent nine hours today typing for no apparent reason 🙂

    • Reply Lauren Sapala 18 November, 2013 at 3:54 pm

      Nine hours?! Not only are you a writer, you’re a DEDICATED writer.

  • Reply Anne Milstead 18 November, 2013 at 2:13 pm

    You always seem to read my mind! Thank you Lauren for your insight and encouragement you give us all.

  • Reply Glynis Jolly 19 November, 2013 at 5:02 am

    I’m guilty. There’s no doubt about it. Some of it come from habit. Someone will ask me what I’ve been doing, and the first thing that pops into my head comes out of my mouth, “You know, the usual.” I need to find some places where I can submit my work other than for free.

  • Reply Craig 19 November, 2013 at 12:33 pm

    Never thought of it that way–that’s pretty much exactly what I do… Mostly because right now I don’t have the free time to be committed to my writing. Actually, MOSTLY because I’m self conscious. But hopefully soon I will be getting more time to write and I will definitely keep your great advice in mind!

    • Reply Lauren Sapala 19 November, 2013 at 1:37 pm

      I think most of us are self-conscious. I always assume everyone else has everything together perfectly, except for me. But every single one of us is human at the end of the day.

  • Reply e a lake 21 November, 2013 at 3:52 am

    “If you wrote something for which someone sent you a check, if you cashed the check and it didn’t bounce, and if you then paid the light bill with the money, I consider you talented.” Stephen King

    I agree with Lauren 110%. Do not sell yourself short. You will become what you think about becoming! See greatness in all you do. NEVER give up and NEVER give in.

    • Reply Lauren Sapala 21 November, 2013 at 8:50 am

      I love this quote by Stephen King! Thank you for sharing it. 🙂

  • Reply hilarycustancegreen 22 November, 2013 at 2:45 pm

    A helpful, insightful post.

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