With today being Valentine’s Day, it might be expected of you to put on some spectacular display of love and appreciation to somebody else, but when love is in the air, don’t forget the importance of having respect for yourself.
Writing can be a very personal and lonely profession or hobby, and a big part of it is confidence and self-esteem. Now, I’m definitely not advising that you should be one of those writers who claim to be the next Shakespeare, who talk about themselves and their own literary brilliance all the time and who won’t hear any criticism of their own work. These people are invariably not as good as they think they are and their attitude will prevent them from getting any better, but a healthy admiration of your own work and efforts can go a long way in helping you deliver the best writing possible.
Here are three important steps to fostering love and self-respect in your writing process:
1. Be proud of your work
If you don’t like your own work, how can you expect anyone else to? Sitting there and putting together any written work, whether it’s a short essay or a 100,000-word novel, takes effort, craft and commitment. When you’re finished, read it back to yourself. I bet you’ll see the odd turn of phrase that impresses you, and makes you think “how did I come up with that?”
Be analytical too, because you shouldn’t be frightened or ashamed of changing anything that doesn’t work too well, but remember that you have written something! There are hundreds of thousands of people out there who want to do that, but never do, so well done!
2. Give yourself the time and space you need
Day-to-day life and responsibilities mean that pursuits like writing (unless they’re our full-time job) are often some way down the priority list. You might find yourself writing on your phone while on a train or bus, or in front of a computer while also keeping one eye on the oven to make sure your dinner isn’t burning.
This is fine, as any time spent putting words together can only help flex your ‘writing brain’ and make the experience a more natural one, but if you want to take your writing seriously, you need to make sure you’re giving yourself a proper time slot and environment to get it done well.
Decide on a time and day every week or so, and discuss it with your friends and family. It’s not much to ask that for an hour or two each week, you’re left alone to work on your writing, in your own room, away from distraction. Consider a ‘do not disturb’ sign for your door handle if you really want to drive the point home!
Of course, perhaps the biggest distraction is the computer itself. We need it to type, and will probably use the internet for research, but given that there’s just so much ‘stuff’ on the web, it’s easy to get side-tracked and find yourself looking at something that has nothing to do with what you’re supposed to be writing about.
Do what you can to distance your computer work time and recreation time. For example, I use two different internet browsers – Firefox for work and Safari for leisure. If I find myself watching funny videos or reading football forums using Firefox, I quickly remind myself that there’s something more constructive I should be doing.
3. Show yourself ‘tough love’
As a writer, it’s important to find the balance between pride in your work, and the desire to better it. Writers who go too far one way or the other will get nothing done.
Be your own biggest fan, but your own biggest critic too. Read other people’s work, and see what they’re doing better or worse than you. Don’t be afraid to change or even jettison huge sections of text if you find that they don’t work as well as they should. It’s frustrating and may seem like time and effort wasted, but it’s part of the learning process and shows that you are taking yourself seriously as a writer.
We often use the phrase ‘tough love’ to describe the act of being ruthless and seemingly unpleasant to someone, but in a way that ultimately is in their interest. With writing, ‘tough love’ starts with critical self-reflection.
If you feel your love of writing needs a kick-start, why not take a look at our ‘Freelance Writing for Businesses’ course (usually priced at £295, but currently available for just £29 by entering the discount code WRITER in the checkout), or our ‘How to Self Publish an eBook’ course, (usually £245, now £25 with the discount code BOOK25)?
You could even put pen to paper with a wonderfully written Valentine’s Day card… to yourself!