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Most of the consistent readers I know either already possess a natural inclination to express their thoughts in written words, or involuntarily develop it over the years. So what is it that holds them back?
Some of the most common challenges I see in the transition from a reader to a writer, and realizing one’s potential as a writer do not revolve around lack of opportunities or muses or any external stimuli. But rather around a finite set of hurdles that lie within ourselves.
I have tried to outline a few that I believe are the critical ones to address to kick-start your creative engine.
It takes courage and a sense of purpose to actually put thoughts on paper, which is akin to peeling layers off an artichoke to reveal the heart.
The fear of exposing one’s thoughts to the world can be intimidating resulting in conflicting emotions and a strong awareness and acceptance of one’s vulnerabilities. It requires an acknowledgement of the presence of the invisible yet formidable layers of inhibitions, prior to making an effort to shed them one at a time.
Yes, even a strong sense of empathy can make a writer think several times over and reconsider penning down thoughts, ideas, feelings and brooding over the choice of words. Especially avid readers, who read across genres, have a strong tendency to become overly sensitized and empathetic.
A striking sensitivity and awareness that words can be stronger than swords, can become a deterrent. What if the words from the heart were to hurt someone? It is important to reflect and apply some logic and due diligence and ask yourself if you are ready to take ownership and responsibility for the true intent and the meaning behind the words from your inner perspective. If yes, then go ahead with sharing your writing.
Know that, when you write from the gut, the words you string together will encompass the emotions that went into them, and will be invoked and tangle with the reader’s mood, when reading them.
You can’t control how your writing will be interpreted or perceived. The readers’ perceptions and current state of mind can colour the words they read. But if everyone were to interpret your writing exactly the same way, every time, that would be like taking the flavor and zest out of food rendering it bland and predictable always.
A fear of indifference can be a strong deterrent.
After having shed inhibitions to reveal a part of one’s inner self via words in a blog post, book, FB post, social media…what if the world is indifferent, or only a lack-luster response is garnered or worse…it is ridiculed and callously rejected?
Now this should turn the focus on questions to ask yourself, like: Who do you really write for? How do you feel about it and why do you share it? Then the most critical query of all: Why do you write?
Reflect on these questions and answer. Be true to yourself as you do. The answers you arrive at will help you resume your writing journey with a renewed vigor, defer it or change tracks altogether.
While there are academic frameworks, guidelines on what constitutes good creative writing…be it an article or a book, there is nothing etched in stone that dictates perfect writing except for grammar. Now grammar is something you don’t want to risk compromising on, if you are serious about your writing.
While it is important to be aware and keep learning and respecting structure, it can be counter productive and restrictive for a writer to regard guidelines as rules and get so caught-up with them that it begins to hinder one’s own unique writing style from evolving.
Plain old laziness is another culprit that can put the breaks on your writing expedition.
Writing is a solitary activity fueled by creative drive. Something that has to be inspired and indulged in, and not forced. If sufficient discipline is not applied to bolster your passion, it is easy to slip into a state of ennui and comfort, and begin slacking off.
Shake off that lethargy with a quick walk or some other form of light exercise or change in activity.
Is there a magic formula to churn out commercial bestsellers or viral posts? Absolutely, there is, in my view.
Simply put, the way I see it, bestsellers are the result of Writer’s Passion Matching Mass Appeal. What are the odds of this occurring?
Passion cannot be nurtured or forced, it is an intrinsic energy from within. The writing style, story line, character development, genre…all these do add up but cannot assure that the book will be loved by many. It is an undefinable quality, you have no conscious control over, that finally matters and can make or break the book you write. So let passion drive you to write and let the universe conspire to match mass appeal to it rather than attempting it the other way round.
There is no clear-cut “one solution fits all writers” to address and eliminate challenges. But the path to breaking free from them lies in recognizing the challenges prior to tackling them…one step at a time.
A version of this was first published here.
Image source: shutterstock
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