The end of the year can be strange for word-lovers. If you’re anything like me, your last “365” had great writing days and not-so-great ones. There were days when the muse sang and days when her only appearance was to say she didn’t exist. (And never had. Or never would again. You know how capricious the muse is.)
Well, screw that capricious muse. It’s time to take a stand. I’m calling all you word-lovers to take a step with me: it’s time to call yourself a writer.
Screw the Muse: Power in the Name
I’m going to start by quoting this article, which is something you should consider reading:
Everyone engages in self-talk. But much depends on the way we do it. Scientists now find that the right words can free us from our fears and make us as wise about ourselves as we often are about others.
Of course, there are limitations; you won’t fly if you tell yourself you’re a bird! However, if you tell yourself you’re a writer, your likelihood of writing (choosing to write, learning to write, pursuing writing) is much improved…and that’s kind of like flying, isn’t it?
We’re heading into new-year-resolution time. You can get started on one right now: this upcoming year, call yourself a writer.
Writers write. If you are a writer, you will write. It’s time to call yourself a writer.
Screw the Muse: Write Without Her
Muses are fickle beasts; they simply aren’t reliable, and when you’re trying to write, they can’t be corralled. They can’t be trained. In the wake of that, there’s good news: your muse isn’t actually the reason you write.
“Writing is hard work, not magic.[…] It’s also about making a serious time commitment and getting the project done.”
― Suze Orman
Writing is not about your muse. It’s about your self-discipline.
“Amateurs look for inspiration; the rest of us just get up and go to work.”
― Chuck Close
Your muse will dance into the picture sometimes, and on those days, your writing will soar. But on the days she doesn’t, you still need to write.
Show up. Write.You don’t need your muse nearly as much as you thought.
Screw the Muse: A Fresh Start
Whatever happened in the past year, it’s over.
I’m sure you had some failures as a writer; I know I did. You hopefully had some successes, too — but the really crazy thing is you have to leave both failures and successes behind.
- The failures are in the past. They only matter if you quit. Otherwise, they’re just learning experiences, nothing more, and they do not define you.
- Your successes are also in the past. You can’t rest on them; you can’t define yourself by what’s behind you, but only by what’s ahead of you.
Yes, you’ll make more writing mistakes, and yes, you’ll have more writing successes. Don’t live in the last year. Look forward with hope. This new year will be amazing. (Why? Because you’re a writer!)
Screw the Muse: You Are a Writer
You write because you are a writer. This is important. You’re not writing to become a writer; you already are one, and that’s why you write.
You write because you’re a writer. There’s power in that. There’s momentum.
As we head into the new year, it is deeply important that you embrace your identity as a writer. It doesn’t matter if you just started or if you’ve been doing this for years. You are a writer, and writers write.
I want you to practice calling yourself a writer. Believe it. Feel the power of it; and as you process the freedom that comes with knowing you are a writer, you can view the upcoming year with great hope.
You’re going to write this year. It’s going to be awesome.
Your homework this week is a really short one, but it’s crucial. I want you to reply to this post and state two things publicly, boldly, for all the world to see:
- You are a writer. Say, “I am a writer.” DECLARE it! As you do this, you’re vowing to write in the upcoming year. It’s accountability and power all in one.
- Tell your muse to go jump in a lake. You don’t need her, and you can phrase that however you want. Your muse might show up, or she (he, it, they) might not, but you will write regardless. You can. And you will.
2016, look out. We writers are coming your way.
Best-Selling author Ruthanne Reid has led a convention panel on world-building, taught courses on plot and character development, and was keynote speaker for The Write Practice 2021 Spring Retreat.
Author of two series with five books and fifty short stories, Ruthanne has lived in her head since childhood, when she wrote her first story about a pony princess and a genocidal snake-kingdom, using up her mom’s red typewriter ribbon.
When she isn’t reading, writing, or reading about writing, Ruthanne enjoys old cartoons with her husband and two cats, and dreams of living on an island beach far, far away.
P.S. Red is still her favorite color.