This week as I read through two chapters of Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott, the two chapters focused on the inner workings of the writer’s mind. More specifically, both deal with negative thought patterns and how to extinguish that inner critic. Every writer goes through a period of negative thoughts and jealousy so these chapters were relatable.
A few months ago I was feeling a little down about my own writing, and its practices like the ones found in these chapters that helped me remember the purpose in my writing. I don’t make writing a priority so that I will gain infinite success. (Sure, that would be great, but not the purpose!) Rather writing is a natural part of my self-expression and helps me deal with my inner thoughts and ideas. I enjoy creative expression and I feel like God has gifted me with the ability to use written word to encourage and inspire others.
Radio Station KFKD
This chapter of Bird by Bird is about our inner voice and its tendency to get between us and our writing. It can serve as a confidence crusher or a distraction when it is needed most. According to Lamott, the best way to combat our minds when they try to betray us is to establish writing routines that help us drown out the voices of our minds to allow for the voices of the characters to ring through.
We all struggle with the value of our own writing and oftentimes the same voice in our head that tells us that “no one would ever read this garbage” also envisions what it would be like to hold a book with your name on the cover. The voices are half the battle.
By establishing writing routines you can quickly recognize when the voices are out of control and have some go-to tools for defeating those voices. For me, I like a semi-quiet room, a cup of coffee (or two) and I also like to pray a little bit for distractions to be lifted. It’s crazy what all I can accomplish in such a short time if I adhere to my routines.
This is a natural state for many writers. As each of us works toward goals we have set we see that others get there a little quicker than we do. We watch as writers (who in our opinion are inferior to us) are met with success time and time again. We may even have conversations with these writers where they never fail to bring up the fact that they just got a book deal or have moved on to publish their third book.
Jealousy is real, but it shouldn’t be our natural reaction to others who find success.
As a writer, nothing kills our inspiration quicker than a bad case of envy. If we start measuring ourselves against anyone but ourselves we will quickly become bitter about the craft. Writing while bitter is a tragic mistake.
If you find yourself drowning in jealousy remind yourself about why you write. Do you write to become rich and famous? (I sure hope not…odds are so slim that will ever happen to anyone.)
We write because we have been gifted in this way. We have stories to tell that others need to hear. Success isn’t measured in dollar amounts. Keep in the forefront of your mind that success is when the things that you write touch another. It’s success if five people like your writing. In the end, a true writer should measure success not on movie deals, dollar amounts, or publishing, success is working hard to see a project through and growing in the craft along the way.
The Ameri Brit Mom