Art in any form is prone to becoming a comparison game and, when it’s something as personal as your writing, it can be brutal. These questions can help you separate from the pack and become a healthier writer.
Be Centered in Your Mission
Take a moment (or an afternoon) to think through these questions:
- Why do you write?
- What is your story’s purpose?
- What is writing’s purpose in your life?
- What makes your writing/story unique?
When I felt the need to justify my writing to myself and others in college, I thought my novel had to have some epic purpose. As I’ve gotten older, I realized that it’s enough that it’s something I enjoy. I believe my novel has purpose beyond just entertainment, but if it didn’t, that would be fine as long as that was what I was aiming for.
What has brought me a lot of freedom and peace is that now I know the value of my writing –as a part of my life and as a piece of art– and I’m not trying to compare myself with people whose writing fits differently into their life or with books that have different purposes than mine.
Know Your Own Value
In a blurb world, it’s easy to think of our identities like a quick profile bio– Writer, mom, lover of coffee and all things cozy– but if any of those things were taken away, we would still be us. It sounds like something that should be written in cursive on instagram, but it’s true. Take some time to think through these questions and let yourself answer in paragraphs– you are more than a listicle.
- What do you like about yourself? (not circumstantial titles, but attributes)
- What makes you different than others? (give yourself space to embrace it, even if it isn’t pretty)
- What are you passionate about? Why?
- How have you changed as a person in the last five years?
- What are your hopes for yourself as a person this next year?
It’s so tempting to view our work as reflections of ourselves– getting high off of praise and wrecked by rejection– but the whole thing leaves us bruised and empty. But…
We are not our work.
You are not your story. You are not defined by how active you are in the writing community, how many hours you spend on your manuscript per week, how cute or poignant your #amwriting posts are, how many acceptances or rejections you have received, or whether you’ve been at this for ten days or a decade.
You are an important human being, regardless of the state of your written work, and cutting the ties between your value and your work will actually improve your writing.
Let’s walk into joy, my friends.
~Abigail signing off with a smile and a prayer~