Greetings, fellow word nerd! I take it you’re here because you’re feeling the creative burnout and you just want some assurance that you’re not a complete and total failure.
Guys, gals, and non-binary pals — I feel it, and I’m here to remind you that you’re doing just fine.
Even if you haven’t written a word on your #WIP in two weeks. (Like me.)
Even if your muse has left you high, dry, and frickin’ frustrated. (Like me.)
Even if you’re, once again, starting to question your talent and ability to finish the damn thing. (Like — you guessed it — me.)
Here are some gentle affirmations for writers who, like me, are struggling with writer’s block or experiencing what Well-Storied’s Kristen Kieffer calls a “creative winter”.
You got this, my friend.
If you’ve been a writer of any kind for five minutes, you know every writer and their grandma says you should write every single day.
While I definitely advocate for a daily, or at least regular, writing habit, I know things don’t always work that way in the real world.
I also know how discouraging it sometimes feels to scroll through the #amwriting tag on Twitter and see all those “real” writers averaging 1k words a day or more.
Stop playing the comparison game. Seriously, stop. Your writing style, pace, and process are uniquely yours.
That said, there’s nothing wrong with setting goals, wanting to increase your creative momentum or create a regular writing routine, but make sure you’re doing it for the right reasons — i.e., not to keep up with the Joneses on Twitter.
It’s okay to take a mental health day (or three).
If you suffer from depression, anxiety, or any other mental illness, you know how hard it is to get out of bed some days, let alone meet your daily word count goal.
Even if you’re not officially diagnosed with a mental health condition, we all go through icky mental patches from time to time. Hey, we’re only human.
Making time to care for yourself during these spells isn’t just okay — it’s necessary for your wellbeing.
When depression and mental illness wreak havoc on your writing life, allow yourself to rest. It’s the best thing you can do for your body, mind, spirit, and most importantly, your creative drive.
It’s okay to feel inadequate.
Y’all, this is one reminder I should probably tattoo on my forehead, because it’s vital to our survival as creative beings.
Most of us writers feel inadequate at some point. We doubt our work ethic, our talent, our skills.
That’s when it’s time to flip our perspective.
Try to see imposter syndrome for what it really is: a desire to improve. A desire that’s so strong it consumes you entirely.
This might seem counterintuitive, especially given the writer’s block that’s often part and parcel of imposter syndrome.
But think about it. We feel inadequate because we want our #WIPs to be the best they can be. We want to be good writers. And how do we get good?
We learn. We plan. We practice. Rinse, repeat.
With the right perspective, imposter syndrome and feelings of inadequacy can become a catalyst rather than a roadblock.
It’s okay to enjoy other hobbies.
Don’t feel guilty for the time you spend playing video games, watching TV, scrolling around on the internet, or doing whatever else you like to do with your free time.
You are allowed to have hobbies that aren’t related to writing and reading.
It doesn’t make you any less of a writer. It doesn’t mean you don’t enjoy your craft. It just means that you are human and you need more than one hobby to stay mentally stimulated.
In fact, your other hobbies could even boost your creative writing skills! (Next week, I’ll talk about why I think all writers should play video games.)
It’s okay to take a break from the screen.
If you’re anything like me, you spend a lot of time staring at a device screen. Between my blog, freelance writing and editing jobs, and my short story collection, I easily spend at least 8 hours a day glued to my laptop.
If you’ve spent hours on other work that involves a computer screen, don’t beat yourself up for giving your eyes a break!
It’s not always as simple as writing on paper, either. If all your research, notes, and drafts are on your laptop, you can sometimes feel naked without it. (I know I do.)
So if your eyeballs are starting to wiggle, step away from the laptop. Take a walk, go have coffee with a friend, do something that doesn’t involve a screen. The next time you sit down at your desk, you’ll feel refreshed and ready to write.
The most important affirmation for writers? Keep the faith.
You started writing this thing for a reason. Whenever stress, burnout, and feelings of inadequacy hit, remember your reason.
If you have to write it on a notecard and stick it above your desk; if you have to set a daily reminder on your phone; if you have to, I dunno, tattoo the damn thing on your forehead — remember your reason.
But if you do find yourself starting to lose faith — in yourself, your work, your skills, your project — consider reaching out to a fellow writer.
We have all felt this way at some point, and I’m willing to bet most of us, myself most certainly included, wouldn’t hesitate to reassure a writer who’s struggling.
Writing is hard, and we have to look out for each other.
Emotions like stress and overwhelm are part of the creative writing process, but don’t think of them as “negative” emotions. While they certainly don’t feel “positive” most of the time, it’s all a matter of perspective.
It’s okay to write slowly and take as many breaks as you need. It’s not okay to give up on your passion or let stress and overwhelm kill your creativity.
The world needs your story.
So when your writing world feels like it’s crashing down, or when your creative drive starts to dwindle, take a deep breath, remind yourself of your reason, and start again.
What are your favorite affirmations for writers? What would you add to this list? Talk to me!