Am I Any Good?
by Kathryn Mockler
June 18, 2018
I remember when I got interested in creative writing, one of the thoughts that crossed my mind was—do I have any talent? This is common for many new writers. Feeling like they are not good enough or talented enough can sometimes stop new writers before they even get started.
I once had a friend ask me to read his poems, and after I gave him some feedback, he asked—Yeah, but am I any good? Is it worth it for me to pursue writing poetry? Obviously I couldn’t answer that question because whether or not someone devotes their life to writing is a completely personal decision.
The writing life is both exhilarating and brutal. You may write something you find so personally fulfilling, but when you share it with the world, the world may not see what you see, and this can be heartbreaking. Also if you are hoping to get published, then you have to deal with all of the rejection that goes along with that.
Really when you think about it too much—what fool would put themselves through all that? Well, me for one and maybe you too!
The best thing to do when we have a concern is to face it head on rather than letting it fester. So let’s go to that scary place.
Ask yourself—what will you do if you find out you’re not any good (whatever that means to you)? I know—it’s a terrifying thought.
But seriously what will you do if you find out that you are not any good at writing?
Will you stop? Will you give it up forever?
If your answer is YES—well—that settles that, doesn’t it?
But if your answer is NO—then what will you do about it?
While it may seem strange that I’m taking you to one of the darkest places in a writer’s mind, before we even begin—trust me there is a purpose.
As a writer there are going to be times when you feel like you are not any good. This can happen when you are blocked, or if you get a comment on your work that is particularly painful, or if you get a rejection, or if what you are trying to say is not landing on the page, or if you are just starting out.
So what we need to create here is our safety net—in the form of a personalized list of actions that you can refer to when you are feeling blocked or lost or uninspired or just not any good.
Write Your Safety Net List
Make list of at least 5-10 things you will do when you feel that you are not any good.
This list will give you concrete actions to take that will help "catch" you when you feel like you are falling.
Here are some things I do, when I feel this way.
So what will you do? Make your list in your notebook or journal or use this PDF Worksheet.
This post is from Week 1 of Introduction to Short Fiction, an online course for those new to fiction writing.
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Check out my online courses: Introduction to Short Fiction (a 4-week self-paced online course) and Kathryn Mockler's Fiction Workshop (a live 6-week workshop-based course via video conferencing).
Writing Tip - Getting Started with Lists
by Kathryn Mockler
June 2, 2018
Sometimes new writers fear that they don't have anything to say or write about, which is simply not true.
One thing I do to avoid feeling stuck is keep an ongoing list of all the things I'm interested in writing about.
The list may be general or specific.
For example, I might list some jobs I've had, experiences that have been important to me, people I want to write about, or subjects I want to research. One of my lists consists of lines of dialogue, another consists of conversations I've overheard. Sometimes I group lists by genre or subject matter. I have a list for poetry, for screenplays, for short fiction.
I use a free site called Trello to organize my lists, but you can use any list-making platform or just a simple notebook will do.
I like using an online platform for lists because I can get the app on my phone, and instead of scanning social media when I'm waiting in line, I can scan and add to my lists. This is one way of being productive when I don't have a lot of time to write.
When I'm composing a story or script, I even use lists to plot the structure or character details or theme ideas.
So if you ever feel stuck or don't know what to write about, start making a list and see what happens.
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