23 May Forgive yourself as a writer
Yesterday I re-read this. I won’t tell you who wrote it, so don’t look beyond the first paragraph. Just see if it resonates. Have you ever felt this way about your work?
‘The more important virtue for a writer, I believe, is self-forgiveness. Because your writing will always disappoint you. Your laziness will always disappoint you. You will make vows: “I’m going to write for an hour every day,” and then you won’t do it.
‘You will think: “I suck, I’m such a failure. I’m washed-up.” Continuing to write after that heartache of disappointment doesn’t take only discipline, but also self-forgiveness… The other thing to realise is that all writers think they suck.’
If this sounds familiar then know you are in good company. We all have our off days. Our days when the prose lies turgid on the page. The days when nothing makes sense and our words come out like scrambled egg.
The days when despite our best intention we don’t make it to the desk, and then when we do, physically, we aren’t there mentally.
Be kind to yourself on those days. Extra kind. Don’t bite your keyboard or stamp on your mouse.
You are in good company.
Here’s what Elizabeth Gilbert continues to say. Yes, the author of Eat Pray Love wrote this. The author of one of the best-selling travel memoirs in recent years which sold over 7 million copies and then had Julia Roberts play the starring role in the movie.
She says, ‘When I was writing Eat, Pray, Love, I had just as a strong a mantra of THIS SUCKS ringing through my head as anyone does when they write anything. But I had a clarion moment of truth during the process of that book.
‘One day, when I was agonising over how utterly bad my writing felt, I realised: “That’s actually not my problem.” The point I realised was this – I never promised the universe that I would write brilliantly; I only promised the universe that I would write.’
Doesn’t that make you feel better?
It made me feel better when I read it years ago when I was sweating over a book. So next time you feel a little of this… be gentle… be kind… and then get back to the desk.