When You Feel Down About Your Talent as a Writer

Think about the people in your life who encouraged your creative life. Did they say how much they enjoyed your letters and email? Did they think your ideas or life lent themselves to a book? Did they send you books to read or bring you to lectures and events they thought you’d like because they thought of you as a writer? Did they read some poems or stories you wrote and encourage you? What characteristics did they notice about you?

Write down what they said to you about your writing. Remember it. When you are stuck or worried about your progress, believe what they said about you and writing.

Now, what are you going to do today to feed the fire?

  • Write a letter to one of those people who thought of you as a writer or make up a letter they might have sent you. Try starting with a line about what they are always telling you about yourself as a writer and then catch them up about your writing life and tell them what you plan to do to build that writing life this day or week or month.
  • Pick up a book you have that you have meant to or are now reading. After you read one to three pages, write about something in your life that corresponds to what you have just read. Or write a letter to the author about what you have inside you to say that their book is helping you find a way to say.
  • Go to a bookstore or library to find some new material that inspires you. Open the book to any page. Write down a passage that pleases you. Read it several times during the day. Then take a snippet from the passage and write your own passage inspired by what the phrase means to you.
  • Make a plan to attend a literary reading at a local bookstore, arts foundation or college or listen to a poet or writer on the Internet (American Academy of Poets, The Writer’s Almanac, the Poetry Foundation and The New Yorker fiction podcastsare all sites with poets and writers reading from their work. You might search YouTube.com as well, of course.)

It might help to believe that you had an astrologer do your chart and tell you that you had to have writing in your life. And you believe the astrologer when she says to become a writer. You believe her because today and everyday you take action toward your commitment to and interest in writing. You fit something meaningful about writing into your days and as you stir the batter of your life, you record the phrases you find in that life-batter. You write them down, so they’ll invite you to your desk where you will expand on them, no matter how wild the connections you seem to be making.  All the writers you admire had to start, word by word, phrase by phrase, just like you.

One response to “When You Feel Down About Your Talent as a Writer

  1. Sheila,
    Thanks for your thoughts on this common problem for all artists. We all stumble into meaning deserts. Ah, how to get to the oasis.


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