This year I’m blogging my book De-Stress Your Writing Life. You can read it for free on Creativity’s Workshop every Friday. Today’s post is part of the chapter on Discovering Your Writing Fears and Barriers.
We’ve already covered many of the fears writers face here, here, here, here, here, and here. We’ve also looked at how you can create a rescue plan to overcome your personal writing fears and barriers. Last week we looked at two barriers that may interfere with our writing. Now we’re looking at one last barrier.
Believing You’ll Never Make a Difference
Our world is full of words, and since the advent of the internet the number of words out there has skyrocketed. Now, with self-publishing becoming easier and easier, the number of books available is staggering.
It’s understandable, therefore, that at times we may become downhearted – wondering if there is any point to our writing. Would it really matter if we stopped? Will we ever make a difference?
These discouraging thoughts can lead us to:
- View our writing as being worth very little, or perhaps even worthless, which leads us to…
- Miss our regular writing schedule, which leads us to…
- Find the process of writing harder and harder until we give up on our writing. After all, we tell ourselves, what’s the point? My writing will never make a difference to anyone.
This cycle of negative thoughts and lack of motivation can completely ruin any productive schedules or achievable goals we’ve put in place.
To move past this barrier, we need to take a closer look at our expectations – what sort of a ‘difference’ are we looking to make with our writing?
Start by asking yourself the following questions:
- How do I define success in my writing? (Is if finishing a story I like? Is it hearing back from a happy reader? Is it the act of putting my work out into the world? Is it receiving payment for my writing? Is it having a loyal following of fans?)
- How many readers am I hoping to find? (10? 100? 1,000? 1,000,000? More?)
- What kind of a difference do I hope my writing will make? (Improve my self-esteem? Show others I’m a real writer?Give someone an enjoyable read? Make someone stop and think about a topic? Make enough income for me to live off?)
Try to be as specific as possible with your answers. Be honest with yourself about what you’re hoping to achieve.
Once you’ve nailed down your expectations, think about the following.
Firstly, the act of writing will always make a difference to you. Even if no one ever reads your work, the act of writing provides you an outlet for your words. It allows you to take a blank page and make it yours, to create adventures and discoveries that are unique to you.
Remember earlier in this book we mentioned the ‘bubbling of words’? If you feel that bubbling, then the act of writing definitely makes a difference – it allows those words out into the world and leaves room for more.
Many writers find the act of writing cathartic. It relieves stress, provides perspective, and releases a feeling of excitement or calm which stays with them for the rest of the day.
Does it make a similar difference to your life? If so, then do not underestimate its worth. Many people set aside regular time to go to the gym, visit the beach, knit, sew, paint, or engage in some form of hobby because it makes them feel good. Writing is just as valid a way to enjoy yourself.
Secondly, your writing can make a different to readers, one person at a time. Your story doesn’t have to be a bestseller to make a difference to someone.
Sometimes the writing with the biggest impact has a very small readership. Some subjects may not appeal to a wide array of readers, but the readers who do identify with it will be moved by its content.
For example, the history of your small town and the fascinating people who have inhabited it in the past may not appeal to someone from the other side of the country, but it may be of great interest to your fellow residents, especially those whose families have been in the area for generations.
If you had to pick one of these options, which would you choose?
- Millions of readers who skim your work but never emotionally connect with what you’re writing about.
- One hundred readers who love your work and can’t wait for your next release.
While many writers dream of reaching a wide audience, almost all agree that the second option is preferable. Finding those hundred, or possibly thousand, readers may take a lot of time, patience, and bravery, but the Internet makes it possible for your writing to find an audience. Yes, the very thing that bombards us with a great mass of information can also help your writing make its way to your ideal reader.
It is possible for you to make a difference, both to yourself and your readers. The best way to do that is:
- Keep up a regular writing habit.
- Write about subjects you’re passionate about.
- Continue to learn how to improve your writing so you can grow as a writer.
- Send your work out into the world so it can find readers.
If you never try, then you definitely will never make a difference. Be brave and passionate in your writing. Take note of every little difference it makes, to you and your readers, no matter how small the impact.
Add your comment below. I’ve reached the end of my outline for this chapter on fears and barriers. Have I covered everything? Are there any other fears or barriers you feel should be addressed? I’m always open to suggestions.
My writing is my living, and I’m currently working under some tight deadlines for upcoming fiction projects, but I take time out of my week to publish this because I made a promise to you, my readers, that I would post here every Friday.
If you’ve found the above helpful, please either send the information on to a fellow writer you feel would benefit or leave a little donation in the kitty to help things along.
Everyone who donates will receive a free electronic copy of the book once it has reached completion.
Thanks for dropping by.