A writer on Quora who said he is writing a book, recently asked if someone would give him some encouragement. It is something we all need, especially now in these strange times. Here is my answer. 

I encourage anyone who has the urge to write to do so. Writing is about the journey, not the destination. When you express your innermost feelings and experiences, you can come to better know yourself and your world. A writer writes because he or she feels they must. While every writer would like to see their work published, the ultimate goal should be that you do it for yourself. If at least one other person connects with what you have to say, that is an added gift. In writing, don’t strive for immediate perfection. Know that your first drafts will be shit. Keep refining and keep writing. It is a worthy pursuit.

I would like to add ten more points of practical encouragement. Almost all writers I know have felt one or more of these feelings.

  1. Know that what you first put down on the pages will be crap. But don’t let that stop you. Think of the story as a big lump of clay to be molded, shaped and refined.
  2. Get rid of negative self talk. Tell your demons to go somewhere else. You can do this!
  3. Know that there will be times you want to quit. Don’t. It is part of the process. Instead, take a short break.
  4. Listen to your critics, but know that you do not have to accept what they say. Remain open minded. If the criticism rings true in your gut, change the paragraphs, characters or storylines. If the comments just don’t fit, have the courage to ignore them. But be sure you are being totally honest with yourself.
  5. Don’t be too eager to say, “I am finished.” You probably won’t be finished for the next 20 or more rounds of editing.
  6. Put the work away for a couple of months then read it again. You will be horrified at the flaws you didn’t see before. Calmly go about fixing the weak spots.
  7. When you feel the manuscript is truly ready to publish, know that your job is only halfway done. Finding an agent or editor, or going through the self-publishing process is probably a bigger challenge than writing the book. Don’t despair. Every successful writer must go through these experiences. You are not alone.
  8. Remember that no one climbs a mountain without developing the right skills and expending great effort. Writing is like that.
  9. Believe in your story.
  10. Most importantly, believe in yourself! And keep writing.

What words of encouragement have uplifted you? I’d like to hear your comments.