Accept Yourself to Accept Your Writing
To make the best use of your abilities as a writer, start with healthy self-valuing and the affirmation of your gifts. As you appreciate yourself, you learn to like yourself, and that knowledge becomes both powerful and empowering.
I don’t advocate rigid self-discipline. I tried that. For years, I held to tight schedules, refused to allow deviations, and castigated myself when I failed. I’ve since learned that true self-discipline flows out of gentleness and self-respect.
I’ll illustrate what I mean. People call me transparent, real, and honest. And I’m getting more that way all the time. I haven’t always been vulnerable on paper. During my first years of writing, my initial attempts were a bit pompous and condescending.
Many years ago, Charlotte Hale, a professional writer in my first editing group, the Scribe Tribe, said to me, “If you’re going to be successful, you must be willing to walk down the street naked.”
I don’t know if that was original with her, but the message stayed with me. If I close my eyes, I can see her sitting across the table, leaning slightly toward me. She smiled before she spoke those words.
I heard them as divinely given revelation. I’ve often said that sentence was the single best piece of advice I ever received about my role as an author. Immediately my work improved.
I continue to strive for that metaphorical nakedness when I write. I continue to move toward an appreciation of myself and the writing process. Creating readable prose isn’t something I need to bully or shame myself into doing. My best writing comes when I treat myself compassionately and caringly. Part of that is to accept the less-than-wonderful parts of myself.
If writers bully their fragile egos, they often get the results they want—and I write that statement from experience—but they won’t like themselves.
Healthy self-discipline grows out of liking who you are and encouraging your desire to be even better.
Only by knowing who you are and compassionately embracing yourself can you grow as an individual and as a writer. If you relentlessly pursue self-understanding, accept your own experiences as authentic, and are willing to compose from that truer, deeper part of yourself, you generate the kind of writing that comes across as authentic. Honest. True.
Another way to say it is that as you accept, respect, and trust yourself, it becomes easier to accept, respect, and trust your writing.