3 Lies Writers Tell that Hold Them Back

  1. “I’m not good enough.” The truth: You’re not a great judge of your own ability (or inability). And what exactly is enough? As writers, we hold our work and the value of it close to us. We think, believe, and act as if we are our work. But really, we are very wrong. Our work is a small piece of us. A semblance of us that requires tending and growth. Usually when someone claims that they’re not good, they’re likely not judging themselves fairly anyway. They’ve been reading articles and books from their heroes and idols — people who’ve been putting in the work for 10+ years. Here’s how to overcome your fear consciousness: Stop feeding it. Be OK with being average but don’t be comfortable with it. Write and write and write. Work relentlessly on your craft. Make getting better every day your job. Rather than compare or idolize, study the greats. Keep chipping away, keep showing up, and keep believing in work, more and more.

  2. “I don’t have any time.” The truth: You’re not being open and flexible enough. See where there is time. I should’ve had this at number one. Just because it’s such a flagrant excuse we skate by with. Some months back, I did a poll on Facebook, asking writers their biggest reasons for why they hadn’t finished their books. And guess what reason numero uno was? Yup: Time. The ironic thing? People who want to write books are saying they don’t have time to write books on a social media app that is easily one of the biggest time wasters of life. Let’s this get clear: You have time. We all have the same 24 hours a day. You just need to prioritize what’s important.If you’re honest, maybe writing isn’t as big of a priority as you believe it to be. Or else, you’d do what you could to incorporate it into your life. Just like you brush your teeth daily — hopefully — writing is a habit. And in order to make it a real habit, you must integrate it into your routine daily. Carry a notebook with you. Set a reminder on your phone. Block off time. If you need accountability, find someone who will tell you when to write.Find a mentor or hire a writing coach.Do what you must. We all have time to do the things we love. We just need to make them a real priority and create that time.

  3. “I don’t have anything to say (or write about).” The truth: You assume you already know what needs to be said (or written), in the moment. Maybe what you want to write is not what you should be writing. Your problem isn’t that you don’t have anything to say. But where you fall short is that your brain and heart aren’t in agreement. You’re wanting to write something different from what you’re experiencing. You’re overlooking an overt or subvert truth that you need to speak. Now, if you’re on assignment and need to write something else, there’s nothing wrong with that. Sometimes, it’s just as easy as acknowledging the internal conflict. More than often, rather than giving power to your resistance by being the victim of it, you need to write through it. Instead of saying you don’t have anything to say, write about why you’re stuck or feeling lost. Write through the feeling of not wanting to write. This is the best cure for the moment.

Bonus: “Everything has been said already.” The truth: While this is somewhat true, you’re being disingenuous because you know it’s not completely accurate. Your voice is unlike any other. This lie is connected to lie #3. You’re essentially saying, “I don’t have a voice,” or “my voice isn’t important enough.” Although the quote does say, “There is nothing new under the sun,” it’s originator doesn’t tell the entire story. You are an entirely new thing with a new and significant perspective. If you completely disregard that because other people have the same interests or points of view, you will cheat the world on what you have to offer. This is one of the most selfish things a person can do. If someone already said it, it doesn’t matter. If someone said it better, it doesn’t matter. Do you.

You were born with a gift.

Do yourself and the world a favor:

  1. Know that you will get better, as you continue writing.

  2. See where and when you do have the time to write.

  3. Get out of your head and just create.

Lastly, believe in yourself enough to share your voice. Your story, your experience, who you are — it’s needed.

Don’t let the lies win.

Brandon Keith