How to move from a discouraged to an empowered writer

How to move from a discouraged to an empowered writer

Sent by Michele Fogal

I believe the largest problem authors face today is not the changing publishing industry or how to use social media to market ourselves. It’s the same problem that it’s always been. Discouragement.

The fact is, when I’m discouraged about my writing, all progress grinds to a halt. It’s an age old problem for artists of all kinds, and the root of advice in every ‘Learn How To Write’ book. In my mind, it comes down to this:

The core of creative process that gets words on a page is learning how to empower yourself.

Every writing teacher has different solutions to this issue. Some talk about routine and schedule. For them, they can push through times of discouragement by holding themselves accountable to dates and times. For others, it’s finding an ideal reader or muse, or building a community that can be your accountabilibuddies.

Some writers believe in meditation. Others in self-talk. Others in journalling… Changing locations… Special pens… Finding ways to trick the mind… Bribes.

Some writers are competitive and can use that to motivate themselves through the rough patches.

What I feel was missing in my own writer’s education was mention of the root of discouragement itself. We all need to find ways to encourage and empower ourselves. For me, that means recognizing all writing books as possible tools, but most importantly, recognizing myself as the artist in charge.

Most solutions are offered up as the Holy Grail of writing tips. That’s because it was the author’s own key into empowerment. That doesn’t mean these keys will unlock your doors.

When I first got stuck as a writer, I tried all kinds of expert advice. Each time I would read a new Golden Rule, and not be able to make it work for me, I felt like a failure. It went something like this, “I’ll never be a real writer if I can’t XYZ the way Bestselling Author does it.”

It took me a long time to realize that I was in charge of my own creativity. A system of trial and error allows me to beta test the ideas of other artists. Some work for me, some don’t. Wasting energy on taking this to heart or using this to create more discouragement is simply unnecessary and counterproductive.

Now, I collage together a process that works for me. This continues to evolve over time and as my situation and needs change. That’s okay! There’s always more to learn and that can be a source of pleasure instead of recrimination.

When I let go of trying to use someone else’s keys to open up my own doors, I not only have a lot more success, I have a lot more fun.

Michele Fogal is a Love Story Novelist, in both Science Fiction & Male/Male romance, a mother, a story addict, an endless student and a drooling xenophile.


Find Michele and her writing in these places: — — Goodreads — Facebook — Twitter — Pinterest


Click the image to learn even more empowerment tips from Michele in our conversation posted on YouTube.

On being honest — to ourselves especially

On being honest — to ourselves especially

Sent by Susan Pieters

I was excited to write a post for “Write, Woman, Write!” because I thought I knew the ultimate advice to pass on, the secret truth that women needed to hear in order to write more:

Say, “No” to everything but your writing.

I felt this was the life raft which could save women from floundering in a sea of niceness. I drafted a post to encourage women to set limits, protect their time, and put themselves first.

I quoted Nora Roberts, who told her kids not to disturb her from writing unless there was blood. I paraphrased Alice Munro, who admitted she’d not stepped in to take care of relatives when the opportunity arose. I advised women to stop volunteering, stop giving away their time, stop being sucked into all the relational traps that women especially are heir to. I was pumped up with my own advice. I felt I had found my own silver bullet to destroy the dark forces that dragged me away from my writing.

But the trouble was, when I stepped away from the computer, I didn’t use that silver bullet. I’d spent an hour on a post I’d volunteered to write, a request from a friend I could have declined. I then made dinner for my adult kids, and even did their dishes. Had I violated every principle I had just written about?

I drafted a new post for “Write, Woman, Write!” It was a defence of being nice, a comfort for women like myself who couldn’t say, “No.” It was about the virtue of saying, “Yes.” I reflected on all the important life experiences I’d had from volunteer activities. I claimed that the best writers, historically, were “nice.” Writers who were suckers were strong, not weak, because putting themselves last was a part of being a sensitive, vulnerable, compassionate human. I claimed that being generous with one’s time was an expression of love and honesty. The final line of the post:

The day I stop being nice, is the day I start writing crap.

When I got up from the computer this time, I realized I was lying. Why did I equate being a doormat with being a good writer? Was I encouraging co-dependency? Why was I personally afraid of setting limits and being an assertive woman who could say no?

Well, third draft’s the charm. The only gift I have left is this:

Writing is hard. Embrace this truth. Because when I say “Yes” to other things, it’s usually because the diversion is easier than writing. Since anything is easier than writing, it’s easy to get sidetracked. Distracted. Blown off course.

Writing—good writing—is the hardest thing you’ll ever do. It’s not easy because the truth is not easy. You have to dig for it. You have to go one direction, then change tack. You have to revise your assumptions. Question everything. Come full circle. Like in this post.

Writing is like being honest. It’s hard, but it’s worth it.


Susan Pieters writes fiction and is an editor at Pulp Literature magazine, where you can find one of her short stories in every issue. She lives near Vancouver, B.C., with her husband and 2.5 children.


Find Susan, her writing and her publication Pulp Literature in these places: — — Goodreads — Facebook — Twitter — Google+

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