Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Trust Yourself as a Writer?

Happy Wednesday my writing friends,
This week I was stumped as to what to write for my Wednesday Seriously Write blog. I usually write about something I’m learning or struggling with in my own writing journey, but nothing came to mind. When this happens (and it’s happened before) I sometimes pop around the web, looking for inspiration.

Today I found an article by an author I’d never heard of before. Someone asked her how to overcome writers block. The author said she sometimes just starts writing to see where it will go. She trusts herself as a writer enough to know that eventually something worth reading will come out.

She trusts herself as a writer. Those words struck me. What did she mean? Do I trust myself as a writer? I decided to take her advice and try some free writing. Maybe I could get to the bottom of this “trusting yourself as a writer” idea.

So, without further ado, here’s the raw footage (well, for your sakes, I cleaned it up just a wee bit. And note, even when free writing, I tend to write with a reader in mind.)

It’s that internal voice telling us we’re no good. In Glacier Bay, I had to cut a lot of my words. A LOT! Not because the editor made me, but because as I read the words, I didn’t like many of them. This process made me incredibly insecure. It’s almost easier when someone else tells you something “needs work.” But when you can see how bad it is yourself, it feels even yuckier. At least to me it does. I wondered, how could I have thought these words were good? How come I didn’t see the weaknesses here or the lacking elements there? It made me stop trusting myself. It made me doubt my ability to be a writer at all.

Interestingly, my co-writer, Tricia Goyer, had to cut a lot too. I asked her if she felt discouraged. She said instead of worrying about making cuts or chanes, she gets excited about how great the book will be once it’s fixed. It actually empowers her. She’s so brilliant.

I remember years ago when I edited her first book. I was nervous to send her the edtited copy because it had so many red marks. I didn’t want to hurt her feelings. I really liked it so much, but it could’ve looked like I didn’t because of all the red marks. Yet, I loved the story and the characters. I loved the heart of the book.

She wrote back excited about the red marks. Thanking me for them. And she maintained that attitude through every book I edited for her. Maybe that’s why she continues to get better and better as a writer—and maybe that’s why editors like to work with her.

Ha! I didn’t mean to write this thing about Tricia, but she’s a good example of trusting yourself as an author. Of trusting the process. Of not doing what I did…

I assigned meaning to the bad writing. I let it define me in some way. How lame is that? It doesn’t have to mean anything at all.

This reminds me of the story by Max Lucado about the Wemmicks. Remember? The Wemmicks got dots when they did bad things and stars when they did good. But the dots and stars didn’t stick to one girl. Why? Because she spent time with the maker.

If I’m writing to please my maker—my wonderful Savior—the praises or criticisms (my own or others’) won’t stick. They don’t have to define me whatsoever. I’m valued because my heavenly Father loves me. And my writing is important because He loves me. So maybe it’s not about trusting myself as a writer, but trusting a certain someone else. You know who. 

So from this meandering post, I’ve learned a couple things.

One, cuts and setbacks don't mean I'm a terrible writer. They can be positive if I “get my Tricia on” and trust a better product is soon to come. 

Two, trusting in the one who holds me and my writing in his hands makes the dots and stars drop off, replaced by His ever-embracing, always-accepting love.

What do you think of the idea of trusting yourself as a writer? I’d love to hear.
God bless and happy writing!



  1. Great post, O! I'm guessing many, many writers will relate with this. I do. I like Tricia's take on edits. What a great attitude about changes. All those tracked changes don't have to make us feel condemned. Plus, this helps turn that negative emotional energy around, using it to power through and make the project better. Thanks for sharing this!

    1. Thanks, Annette. GREAT point about turning the emotional energy into a positive. It's not easy, but something to keep working on and praying about.


We'd love to hear your thoughts! Please leave comments. We'll moderate and post them!