How many times have you said that yourself?
I think there are a lot of people out there who feel drawn to writing fiction, but for a variety of reasons convince themselves not to. I was one of them for literally decades. Sure I wrote some short stories for creative writing classes in college and have blogged off and on since the early 2000s, but when it came to writing fiction, I just couldn’t get myself to do it for a long time.
With the encouragement of my wife, I finally was able to let go of my fears and inhibitions around five years ago and give writing fiction a try. And my only regret is that it me so long to make that decisions.
So what held me back for so long? I’ve narrowed it down to four mindsets that keep would-be writers from writing. Any one of these could follow the “but” in that quote above: “I’d like to try writing someday, but…”
Once you realize that these obstacles originate from your frame of mind, they are easy to overcome.
1. “I don’t have time to write.”
I’ve had so many people tell me that they’d love to write, but gosh darn it, they just don’t have the time. In some ways it makes me chuckle. I have a full-time job over an hour away, two kids under the age of four with another on the way, a weekly online magazine to maintain, and now I’m starting this site. Yet they don’t have time to write.
Now, don’t misinterpret what I’m saying. I’m not here to criticize anyone. I’m saying that if I have time to write, then so do you. So does everyone. We’re all given the same number of hours in a day and it’s what we do with them that matters. If you want to write fiction–if you really want it–you’ll make time.
I’ll have plenty more to say about time management in future posts, but for now let me leave you with this tip: Plan ahead and don’t sit down to write unless you have a plan. No matter what is going on in your life, you can find fifteen minutes to do anything. And if that fifteen minutes is all you have, then make it work. Before you open up your laptop, have an idea in your head of exactly what you plan to accomplish in those fifteen minutes. This could be a word count goal, a blog post, a scene, an opening paragraph. Anything. Just know what it is beforehand. And then sit down and do it.
2. “I’m afraid that people won’t like what I write.”
Fear not. I’ll make it easy for you. People WON’T like what you write. At least not all of them. You have to be ready to accept that fact. You’ll get hundreds, maybe thousands, of rejection letters. If you become successful, you’ll have much more negative feedback than positive because complainers tend to have louder voices.
You have to teach yourself to not let this bother you.
Another important point to take away from this post is that when you write, write for yourself and no one else. If you’re writing for yourself and someone doesn’t like it, so what? Let them find something they like. You just focus on writing what you like. It will be more authentic and you will have more fun. As soon as you start writing to please others, your words are no longer your own. You worry about pleasing everyone else, and then when people don’t like what you’re writing, it will feel more personal.
3. “I don’t know where (or how) to begin.”
Well, you’ve come to the right place. The whole purpose of Write Good Books is to help new writers learn where and how to begin. Start by checking out the writing resources on this site and check back often as I continue to add content.
If you’ve got some completed short stories, jump right over to Duotrope and start hunting for markets to submit to. If you haven’t finished (or even started) a story, check out Stephen King’s On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, which is an incredible “getting started” guide. Like him or not, King knows how to tell a story. His book lays out all of the basics from beginning writing tips to the basics of publishing.
4. “I’m just not good enough.”
Sadly, this might be the most common negative mindset preventing people from writing.
“I’d like to write fiction, but I’m just not good enough.”
According to whom?
If you really would like to write fiction, but feel you are “not good enough” then you’ve got two options:
- Don’t try. Live out the rest of your life without writing and die regretting that you never tried.
- Try. And learn to become a better writer. Read everything you can get your hands on, from the type of fiction you’d like to write, to non-fiction books and websites about writing. With practice, you will get better, and eventually you’ll overcome this defeatist mindset that tells you you aren’t good enough.
Above all else, do not ever compare yourself to anyone else. Motivational author Jon Acuff once said:
“Don’t compare your beginning to someone else’s middle.”
Take that quote to heart. Write. Practice. Learn.
So to close out this post, I’d like to say that if you are feeling any of these mindsets, don’t worry. Everyone feels this way sometimes. Just by becoming more aware of these common mindsets, you can overcome them and start chasing your dreams and reaching your writing goals.
Finally, if you’re a writer who has overcome any of these four mindsets, share you story in the comments section. Or if I have left any out, feel free to share them as well.