Aspiring writers often ask me, “What the most important piece of writing wisdom you wish you knew when you were just starting out as a writer?” My answer is never what they expect. It’s not the tried-and-true “show, don’t tell” or “kill your darlings” advice we’ve all heard time and time again. It’s something much simpler. And in my opinion, something that would have saved me years of frustration, self-doubt, and self-judgment.
My most important piece of writing wisdom:
If you’re a writer—and especially if you’re a writer who isn’t bringing in a significant (or any) amount of income from your writing—then you probably struggle with feeling guilty a lot of the time. I know I do. Because you see, I’m not just a writer. I’m also a wife and a mother and a good friend to a few wonderful people. I work a day job and I have a side business that I pour my all into. Simply put: I wear a lot of hats. I have a lot of other people counting on me.
And sometimes…okay a lot of the time…my writing gets in the way of that.
But what I probably feel most guilty about is the fact that my brain arranges it in reverse order: The rest of my life tends to get in the way of my writing.
When writers first start out writing they tend to concentrate on all the wrong things. The big question always seems to be: Do I have talent? This is followed closely by: How do I get an agent? When I was a new writer I also agonized quite a bit over these things. It’s very normal. Whenever a person begins to truly take risks and follow their passion, the first challenges to surface are always questions of self worth and approval from others.
In all of my work with INFJs, INFPs, and Highly Sensitive People—all of who are also writers and artists and empaths—I run up against the same creative block again and again. It’s the problem that won’t go away for us. The thing that haunts us at every turn. It is arguably the most destructive and self-sabotaging limiting belief in the whole grand universe of limiting beliefs.
For the longest time I had major problems doing revisions on my writing. It seemed so easy for everyone else. Why was it so hard for me? Of course, I also had trouble writing. I hardly ever experienced that state of “effortless flow” everyone talked about, in which the words just magically spewed out of me down onto the page. For years—a lot of years—I felt like something was wrong with me. I felt like I was a failure as a writer.
Then, I discovered something.