Think you need just a little more preparation to be the writer you want to be?
I work with young writers. They are fresh and new and often, already discouraged, usually because they are hyper-focused on everything they lack. Most have already begun and abandoned several characters or stories. They say:
“I need to take a few more classes.”
“I just need a little more time, and I’ll be ready.”
“After I get Geometry figured out, then I will write.”
My response? Nope. None of those things will make you ready. So what do we do?
As writers, we all deal with a lack of confidence from time to time, but some writers feel plagued by it. If you allow yourself to wallow in these feelings, you won’t write enough to improve your work. If you don’t improve your work, you’ll never build a writing career you love.
Use these strategies to keep writing even when you’re full of doubt and insecurity, and ultimately reshape how you think about writing.
In the midst of struggle, writing is a powerful way to express your emotions. Journaling is great, but a poem, no matter how awkward it might feel to write, taps into our what our heart is feeling at the smallest and deepest level.
Try writing a poem around the tragedies that have crashed into your heart.
People love to be inspired. It’s what draws us to stories of underdogs, great achievers, and even, to an extent, celebrities. We love to see how regular people just like us can succeed against all odds.
Storytellers often try to cash in on this audience appreciation for underdogs, but we can easily miss the foundational element of an underdog story: empathy. The reason the audience becomes entranced by the story of an underdog is not because underdogs are fundamentally attractive; we are entranced because we empathize with them.
As a prose writer, I try to suss out where I can deepen and expand my stories, transform a limping clause into a sure-footed guide. Sometimes, as in the preceding sentence, I find metaphor to be the most efficient and evocative tool in my writer’s gym bag.
Metaphor, by conflating two unlike things—often an abstraction like love and a concrete object like a rose (thank you, Shakespeare)—invites readers to connect with our stories via the boundless power of imagination. Or, as James Woods says in How Fiction Works, “[m]etaphor . . . is the entire imaginative process in one move.”
In other words, metaphor helps our stories run smoothly, with steady footing across even the rockiest of terrain, bringing our readers to those stunning vistas seen only from mountaintops.