Recently, I got a little discouraged with my writing. I’m working on rewriting a novel, after finishing my short story in April. But the comments I’m getting from my (amazing and supportive) critique group about my novel seem similar to the comments I got with my short story.
It made me start questioning myself as a writer:
- Am I just wasting my time trying to become a writer?
- When is this going to get easier?
- Do I really have what it takes to be a published author?
- What’s wrong with me that I’m not improving?
After wallowing for a short time, I realized I’m thinking about my writing in a way that’s not helpful. In fact, I’m setting myself up to fail.
Instead of negative questions that lead to negative answers, it’s more helpful to ask positive questions that lead to positive answers.
Because, no matter how discouraged I get, I’m determined to continue to practice my craft until I master it. Given that, why not ask questions that motivate me rather than discourage me?
Here are a few that I’ve come up with:
What’s one great lesson I’ve learned about writing recently?
- The answer to this one is: “Each scene, no matter how small, needs to include a goal, motivation, and conflict.” (Thanks, Sylvie!)
How much time can I put into my writing this week?
- While this is a very concrete question, I find it helpful because it nudges me to get out my calendar and put writing time down in black and white.
What’s easier than it used to be with regard to my writing?
- Getting to the page is definitely easier. I’m so much more likely to open my computer and start typing whenever I get a spare moment.
- I’m also more able to stay in the chair now that I have some “finished products” under my belt.
- Another thing that’s easier is I seem to get more ideas these days. I feel like my “pump” is always primed for writing. That’s a very good thing.
What kind of support would help me as a writer right now?
- Another concrete question, but one that helps me write more often. This week, it would be great if I asked my husband if he was available so I could go to the library and write one night.
What would make writing more fun right now?
- Focusing on one scene sounds a lot more fun to me right now than thinking about rewriting my whole novel.
- Creative writing prompts sound fun, too.
What’s perfect about where I am right now in my writing? (I know, this is a very touchy-feely question, but hey, I am a life coach!)
- What’s perfect is that no one has any expectations about me as a writer. I can write whatever I want without any pressure from anyone.
Okay, I feel much better now and I’m ready to get back to work.
What questions motivate the writer in you?
Diane MacKinnon, MD, is a family physician, life coach and writer. I blog regularly, journal regularly, and write more regularly these days than ever before. I’m grateful to the community here as you all (contributors and readers) are an inspiration to me. Happy writing!