“Nobody puts Baby in a corner.”
You may not be “Baby,” but you know what? No one (and no feeling) should put you in the corner, either.
Happy Thursday, friends! I do my best to share a Writing Tip on Wednesday each week (after doing some slacking lately with everything that’s going on), but it didn’t quite happen for me this week—so welcome to Writer Tip THURSDAY, everyone!
This week, I want to talk about that formidable voice we’ve all faced on our writing journey at some point.
She’s publishing another book. Why can’t I even finish this draft?
Will I even be able to find an agent? Or sell any books?
Everyone else’s stuff is going to fly off the shelves, and mine is just going to sit there for all eternity.
Oh, this is terrible. I should stop and try to write something else.
I actually thought this was good the other day?
Ugg, I’m never going to get another poem published, ever again.
Maybe I’m not cut out to do this.
Some of you know exactly what I’m talking about: Impostor Syndrome.
That feeling that you’re not good enough to do this. That you’ll never do as well as anyone else. That you’ll fail. That you’re already failing by wasting your time on trying.
But that’s all it actually is: A feeling.
We’ve all had these doubts. Newsflash: If someone tries to tell you they haven’t felt this way, they’re either A.) lying to you, or B.) are so full of arrogance, they are completely void of self-awareness.
No one is SO good at what they do that they lack the opportunity to improve and grow.
In my opinion, THAT is where the doubt comes from. You recognize that there’s something you could be doing better and challenge yourself (which is completely NORMAL and HEALTHY, and you SHOULD be doing that).
Where you get yourself in trouble, though, is when you turn it into what I call “a blanket statement” or you start holding your own personal comparing contest (or both!).
Instead of acknowledging that you’ve simply recognized an area that needs improvement in your work (passive voice, for example), you use that as a “blanket statement” for everything you do.
Because you need to improve in A (i.e., passive voice), that somehow now means that you’re just not good at BCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ (writing . . . anything).
And/or instead of realizing that the writer next to you has had different life experiences, writes about a different topic or works in another genre, or simply writes and submits MORE OFTEN than you do, you use the fact that they have more work published to say they are a better writer.
But quantity does not equal quality, even in publishing! Yes, they are probably a good writer, as they have the publications to prove it. But this does not make them a better writer than you; it makes them the writer next to you.
I want to challenge you to do something today, tomorrow, and this weekend.
I want you to show yourself a little grace.
Acknowledge what you’re feeling, and ask yourself DEEPLY why you have that feeling.
Then I want you to acknowledge if this feeling could be Impostor Syndrome, or a blanket statement, or your own personal comparing contest.
If it’s any of those three options, I want you to let that feeling go. Acknowledge that you’ve felt it, embrace it for a moment, and then let it go. Ask it to release you in return, if you feel like it has a particularly strong hold.
If you think you’re feeling something else—for example, maybe you’re feeling guilty that you haven’t written anything new for a while—then acknowledge that feeling, too, and ask yourself CRITICALLY what you can do to change it.
If you haven’t written in a while, write something! Read someone you love, look up some writing prompts, or just stare at a blank page for a while.
If you’ve been avoiding revising, or pulling your manuscript together, set a goal for how much time you will spend on that before Monday, and then do it. No questions, no excuses, no guilty feelings.
Whatever it is that you’re feeling, there is a REASON you’re feeling it.
The best thing to do is acknowledge the feeling, and figure out what’s causing it. Once you know that, you can work on changing it or leaving it behind.
But remember as you get started: It’s just a feeling. You are good enough to do this. You are enough without publications. You are enough. And you will get past this.
I hope you’re having the most wonderful Thursday.
“Nobody puts Baby in a corner” is from Dirty Dancing.
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