Dear fellow struggling writer,
You might have read a lot about how you could improve your craft. But in this article, I’d like to talk about and to you, the story-teller.
How are you? Things have been hectic lately, huh?
Perhaps you thought this year will finally be your breakthrough. NaNoWriMo should have been a success, especially because you had more time to write than ever before. If this happened, congratulations! You managed to do at least one complex task amidst this worldwide chaos. Few people could achieve that, so give yourself credit and celebrate your victory.
But if your writing plans didn’t turn out the way you wanted, congratulations as well! For what, you ask? For making it alive and healthy at the end of this hectic year. It might sound like a pity-party, but acknowledge the fact that safety and health are crucial!
Don’t be hard on yourself because you didn’t finish your creative projects!
You are still a writer, and you will continue to be one as long as you put your thoughts on paper.
If you find yourself in a writing slump that seems to last forever, you are not alone in this. I know it feels like you won’t be back in the game ever again, but that is a subjective belief, not a certainty. All you have to do to change your conviction is to scribble a few sentences and done! You’re writing again.
But this doesn’t count, you might say. If it were so simple, everybody could do it!
Let me tell you that yes, every idea jotted down matters. And yes, everybody could do it – with various degrees of quality -, but they choose not to. At some point, you decided that you have to write in a certain way, at a fixed moment, and abide by some completely made-up standards. It’s high time to free yourself from those self-imposed ideas and let yourself thrive.
Reframe the writing process!
Society taught us that every activity we do must have a final material purpose. Skills fuel productivity that, in turn, equals profit and success. This combination shapes our sense of self-worth. All those who don’t rise to this standard are useless, parasites, failures. Sounds familiar?
It’s easy to fall into this thinking trap – especially for a struggling writer who hasn’t had a published text yet.
The point is you shouldn’t adhere to radical views such as this one, where you live only to produce marketable assets. They limit your role in this world, which only you can find or create along the way. You are a breathing, inimitable wonder who has countless stories inside you. Why not let them get out? If they get published and get to the public, that’s amazing! But don’t let this be your only motivation.
The superiority of a published writer is the ultimate myth, so forget about it.
Many struggling writers get discouraged thinking they will never get as good as the published ones. Yes, in the past it took genuine talent and perseverance to reach the title of author and the fame that came with it. But have you browsed a bookshop recently?
Nowadays, the big boys like Dostoevsky or Hemingway are shelved next to atrocious excuses of novels that somehow still sell. Being published doesn’t guarantee you a status in the literary world. Do you know what does?
Constant writing leads to evolution and to the discovery of your distinctive voice. Whether you are a novelist, poet, playwright or screenwriter, practice is what will elevate you from a struggling writer to a fully-fledged one.
Remember what drives you to write
I used the word ‘remember’ because it’s useful to go back in time to the first written lines and to the reason behind them. Was money the reason? Or fame? I doubt it. Most people started to weave stories because they:
✏️ heard or experienced something interesting to them and wanted to put it into words
✏️ loved stories growing up and wanted to try their hand at it
✏️ felt like writing allowed them to create and completely control something, as opposed to real life
✏️ found comfort in the written ideas
✏️ wanted to clear their head or heart
…and so on. I encourage you to find your main reason and remember in detail the first time you wrote something un-related to school. Where were you? How did you feel? And most importantly, why did you do it again? Memories might come back flowing, emerging you in a sea of feelings. Try to bring their essence back with you in the present.
This visualization exercise might focus on any other pleasant writing experience, not necessarily the first one. Write your main reason on a piece of paper and put it next to your laptop. This way, you’ll never lose sight of what’s significant to you. You might still be a struggling writer, but hopefully, you might have gotten your spark back.
As a final thought, I wish you all the best! May your path be full of adventures and self-discovery. If you feel ready to start another project, here are some helpful resources you can use!
Struggling writer, you got this!