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In writing, anything worth doing is worth doing badly

“Anything worth doing is worth doing badly.” – G. K. Chesterton

I’ve never met a writer yet who doesn’t feel resistance to writing in one form or another.

Sometimes getting stuck is a sign you need to do more research or try freewriting your way to ideas. The antidote is to just push forward no matter how messy it may seem.

Resistance can take the form of procrastination, failure to write certain scenes that are “difficult,” and a fluttery feeling in your stomach that feels like fear but is a good sign that you’re stepping outside of your comfort zone. At that moment, your shadow self may be telling you all sorts of things to feed the fear.

“You’re too old.”

“You’re not creative enough.”

“Your ideas suck.”

“It’s too hard to get published.”

Your shadow self isn’t an enemy you must avoid, more like an eccentric, confused friend who just needs to be set straight. Not addressing this inner voice head on makes it grow bigger than ever in your mind. Instead, think about the evidence of all the things that you’ve mastered. Think of all the times you stepped outside your comfort zone, whether it’s doing something you were afraid of trying or learning something new. Think of all the crappy sentences and paragraphs you polished into beautiful stories or poems.

Remember how many things you did badly before you got them right? As a baby, you crawled before you took your first steps. And fell down over and over before you walked. You jabbered unintelligibly before you could talk understandably. You probably wrote a few letters of the alphabet backwards before you finally were able to print them all correctly.

If self talk can get you into a state of writing resistance, it can also get you out. The right words can squash the negative voices.

When you find your inner critic talking you down, just say, “Yes, but anything worth doing is worth doing badly.”

What mantras, slogans, or guides do you use to take action and silence your inner critic?

One Comment Post a comment
  1. I like your attitude, Carly, and you make a lot of good points. I don’t try to silence my inner critic, I listen. If I think there’s something valid, I make an effort to address it but I also try to keep everything that voice comes out with in perspective.

    September 5, 2013

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