There is a psychological nuisance so powerful that can deflate the drive, self-esteem, and human spirit of many aspiring Writers of any age. These Writers are faced with an obstacle that make them stop, think twice and question their right to be a part of a respected community. This even leads them to doubt their ambition of pursuing their literary or journalistic calling.
It is that inner voice echoing: “Huh! Who do you think you are, a J. K. Rowling in the making?” or “Oh my God, stop pretending you have a literary mind!” and more similar lines of thinking. Some may call it a fiend while others may describe it as the self-defeating aspect of a person.
If you have been afflicted as I have been, do not worry, the voice speaks only in behalf of detractors, real or imagined. It is not the embodiment of the authentic gift of creativity you and I were born with.
When you know you have a great idea brewing in your head that you could almost see it completed in your mind, strike the keys; When the voice blows its cacophony horn, resist the urge to stop.
Mind and Behavior
How your thinking becomes your staunch enemy at times has reasons of its own.
While confidence takes a respite, this occupational hazard of qualm attacks during your journey as a blossoming writer haunts even the best of Writers.
“I have written practically nothing yet, and now again the time is getting short. There is nothing done. I am no nearer my achievement than I was two months ago, and I keep half doubting my will to perform anything. Each time I make a move my demon says at almost the same moment:” Oh, yes, we’ve heard that before!” Katherine Mansfield (1888-1923), British short story Writer.
Just as how old manipulative thinking habits have repeatedly, slowly, and unconsciously crept into your subconscious, so shall you replace them with new ones consciously.
“Whatever action we take is first of all determined by our thoughts, so if we change our thoughts, we can change the way we behave.” Cherith Powell and Greg Forde
Decision is your first step. Redeem your faith in your ability to write by making up your mind of wanting to do so. Ignore unwanted mental murmurs right away. Refuse to dwell on them.
“Anytime you can be aware of and witness your own thoughts, instead of becoming lost or absorbed in them, you’re in a position to grow from your experience rather than being immobilized by it,” Richard Carlson, Ph.D., famous author and Expert on happiness and stress.
Act on this decision by writing always until the habit has been embedded in your system. Stick to it. The discipline will condition your mind to an ‘I can’ attitude and will provide you with proofs of your writing skill, slowly but surely.
Search for the inner voice responsible for getting you on board this vessel of courage to have ever wanted to write or written a few pieces in the first place. Relive it. Delight in it.
However, more than positive self-talk, you will need something tangible to corroborate your long buried positive belief. Produce the written piece. It will bear out the reality of your skill as a writer and will sustain the writer’s spirit running in your vein.
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” Aristotle.
In addition, submitting your work often and getting published even in small publications (print or online) immerse you more in the world of writing and defines further what you really want, what you can achieve and what you will ultimately become. It validates you further as a writer in your eyes and in the eyes of others.
A published work further nullifies that damaging inner voice and even the real detractors (in contrast to professional, constructive and objective Literary Critics) existing beyond your writing comfort zone.
“Do you want to know who you are? Don’t ask Act. Action will delineate and define you. You will find out from your actions.” Witold Gombrowicz (1904-1969), Polish Novelist, Playwright, Essayist.
Beating the Beast Within
Make it a habit to study the lives of people who started out with wobbling knees in careers totally different from the degree they have earned in college, dreaming dreams that no one thought they could reach. Count the number of times they were told they were misfits but went on to succeed in fields seemingly incompatible to their personality and intellect.
Read Writers’ biographies and unearth their struggles, look around you and be inspired. Shift your focus from the mockery of your thoughts to real quiet people who never bragged but wrote nonetheless with profundity.
As a late blooming writer myself I employ these pointers. In my own pace, I have learned to fight back. The automatic reaction casts out the ugly feeling of inefficiency and helps me to proceed.
It may not guarantee a life free of backslidings to negative self-talks but these mental approaches serve as buffers that strengthen the mental defenses overtime until the bad voices are subdued.
The advice of other writers that says write, write, and write is a gold mine. It sharpens and stimulates your writing mind. Best of all it brings you closer to your vision and away from your psychological beasts.
So unless you do exactly the opposite of what your demon says you cannot do, your inner battle will not be silenced.
Pursue your dream. Write!
I love essays! I enjoy reading them, checking them, teaching my students how to generate them, but most of all I enjoy writing them! You want to ask why. I hope after reading my article you will understand. And I so much believe that you will also fall in love with the incredible world of essays. Let’s start our trip from a short background. The word “essay” originated from French word “essai” which means “attempt, effort, sketch”. And this translation reflects the essence of the task you are assigned at your college. Really, it is your personal attempt to give a challenging sketch on some engrossing issue. Unlike other academic assignments, essay suggests freedom of your creative work. Its main advantage is that you can write it on any topic, in any style. Essay is your own point of view on something you have heard, read, seen etc. The forefront of the essay is your personality, your thoughts, feelings and your life position. You have a unique chance to enter a reasonable controversy with other authors, as the teacher expects you to show your erudition in the subject. However, you should remember that regardless freedom of the writing process, it is not that easy at all. Because you are expected to find an original and capturing idea (even in the traditional context) and exceptional opinion on some problem.
The title of essay does not strictly depend on the essay topic: the title can also serve as a starting point in your reflection; it can express the relation of the whole and the parts. A free composition of essay is subject to its inner logic, it is an emphasized position of the author.
The style of the essay is marked by its aphoristic, paradoxical and figurative character. To convey your personal perception of the world you should: employ a lot of capturing examples, draw parallels, choose analogies, use various associations. One of the characteristic features of essay is the wide usage of numerous expressive means, such as metaphors, parable and allegoric figures, symbols and comparisons. Your can enrich and make your essay more interesting if you include in it: unpredictable conclusions, unexpected turning points, interesting clutches of events.Essay presents a dynamic interchange of author’s arguments, supporting evidence and questions.
Be brief, but at the same time avoid absolute simplicity. No one will like reading a monotonous narration. Completing the draft of your essay, read it aloud, yes, aloud. You will be struck by the number of rough details in your essay. You should get rid of them with no regret. If you have to say something new, original and exclusive, then the genre of essay is your genre. Be creative, free your mind and may be you will reveal a great essayist in yourself.