Sunday, 14 June 2015

Why Are Writers So Hard On Themselves?



"It isn't a finished piece"

"It probably isn't any good"

"Open to critique"

"I'm still working on it"

How many times have you heard a blogger/writer say this? What I can't understand is how far some people go to put themselves down. I find that this is particularly associated with the Irish; we are modest people and seem unable to successfully accept a compliment or admit that we are good at something. It's a true shame, because I feel that this instilled fear has held back some potentially amazing writers that haven't put forward their work to anyone at all.

I've been aware of this side to writing for a long time now, and have told myself - even from a young age, to not let my own writing intimidate me. I will make mistakes, not every piece I write will be a masterpiece, John may like Piece A better where Mary will prefer Piece C. Our brains all wire to a different frequency, we should not put someone else down just because they groove to a different wave length and approach things in a different way.

The notion of going through 20 drafts for one piece is something that really baffles me, I cannot make myself do that, the fun would be gone out of it for me. Whereas it's absolutely essential for other people, and if it works for them, it works for them. Personally, if a piece is written within 4 sittings - it is usually finished. That's just how I tick. I'm an honest person, even with myself. If I'm pleased with a piece, I will admit it in my own head - if I would rather never clap eyes on a particular set of lines again, I'm confident enough to say that too. 

The fact that being creative, stringing together words from your life, eyes and ears is something that should be celebrated and encouraged, not compared and shamed. While a little bit of constructive criticism is needed by most people at some stage - even the world's finest writers - we don't need a bulldozer thank you. 

Another bee in my bonnet I have is the lack of support there is right now in the overall media for young writers. Yes there are workshops that even I have been lucky to participate in, and they are a great way to give you that boost as well as meeting other like-minded people. But when it comes to publications - I just want to run and hide in a corner for the rest of time. While many people will always encounter more rejections than publications and it is not exclusive to young people, the whole farce has a rather aristocratic vibe does it not?

You will hear people on the news, politicians and others who will say that Ireland has produced some of the best writers in the world. While that is very true, what about the ones living today, young and old? You're big news when you come out with a best selling book, but in the meantime you're just an Ordinary Joe Soap. A lot of this is derived from cuts in the Arts Council, but until then, I really believe there could be a lot more done. Money seems to be the root problem of many of our headaches, which is an unfortunate way to portray it - but it's always the answer I seem to be handed down with.

Do not let this dishearten you. If you've a knack for writing, art or anything, please keep going with it. For so long we wonder should be even bother, will it get us anywhere - but you really never know until you give it a go. The best advice I can offer that has been passed to me is; keep writing. Any other words of wisdom that I don't even fully possess would be damaging, I'm still learning too. If you have belief in yourself, and belief in your work, that is far more important that one single rejection from someone sitting in an office wearing fancy rimmed glasses holding an expensive red Parker pen. 

Let me know on what you think about this fisasco in the comments below.

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8 comments:

  1. this is exactly how I've always felt about writing - lots of people tell me I'm good at it but I can't fully believe them & I feel constantly intimidated when I read other peoples writing - I compare what I've written to their articles and in my mind it's never as good as theirs. I know now its a common mindset amongst most writers but it's such a hard habit to break and one that does me no favours at all x

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    1. I hear you gal, it's a never-ending thing. Think of it this way, everyone brings something completely new and exciting to the table and it is just as worthy to be read as everyone else's work. It's ingrained in our nature to compare ourselves to other people in every aspect of our lives. If we can somehow break the cycle, it makes it all the more enjoyable :) And it's not an easy thing to do either! Own your work and be proud of it :) I'll be sure to keep an eye out ;) Thanks for reading x

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  2. great post! Spot on about the Irish! Sometimes i think it is all about who you know or who you are related to that gives even an average writer an opportunity to become a success and some amazing talented people are left on the shelf! xx

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    1. Thank you Hollie! Yes, you've a point there, absolutely - it shouldn't be the way but there you go. It's the way the country is run sadly. Thanks so much for reading x

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  3. Love this post Catherine, Hope that we are a teeny tiny bit of support to u! #itwbn

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    1. Thank you Saibh. Oh absolutely, yourself and Sinéad do incredible work with itwbn - I love being a part of the community!

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  4. I feel like that about everything I write- most of which has never seen the light of day. You are a fantastic writer and you should be really proud of everything you do.

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