Writers are an interesting bunch.
We picture them as confident and polished, because their writing is confident and polished. They’re clear in expressing their ideas, and they craft words that amaze us in their simplicity and connection. We think, “Wow! I wish I could write like that! It must be so easy to write when you’re that gifted.”
But most real writers aren’t like that at all.
Writers tend to be introverts, rather than extroverts. Extroverts shape their ideas by talking about them, so writing isn’t worth the effort. Introverts often shape their ideas by writing about them. In fact, when they begin a post, an article or a chapter, they often don’t know how it’s going to end until they get to the last page.
Good writers tend to be more sensitive than most people (in a good way). That means they take time to think and rethink ideas before launching them to the public. They sense what readers are thinking and feeling, so they write to give those readers tools for the journey. They think deeply. They’re paying attention.
That sensitivity also makes them more insecure. No matter how good their last book, post or article was, they think, “So that turned out OK. But what if I can’t do it again? What if there’s nothing there?”
When I wrote my first book, I remember the moment I hit the “send” button to forward my completed manuscript to my editor. I had spent months writing, crafting and shaping my ideas and putting them on paper. Now it was complete. But I was too close to it. All I could think of was having my editor say, “Who told you that you could write? This was a big mistake.”
I told her it was like showing off your newborn child and hoping people don’t say, “Wow – rough time in labor, huh?”
So, why do writer’s do it? Why do they put it out there at the risk of rejection?
To make a difference.
If writers weren’t interested in making a difference, they could write a diary (which isn’t a bad thing). No one would see it, and no one could criticize it. There’s no risk.
But most writers care deeply about their readers. They don’t just want people to say, “You’re a great writer.” They want people to think differently, live differently or be able to handle life differently because of what they’ve written.
It’s their sensitivity that makes them so aware of what other people need, and they care enough to risk criticism to meet those needs. They don’t have to, but they choose to.
In a corporate office, we get critiqued formally once or twice a year during an annual review. But when we write, we can get feedback almost instantly.
When the feedback is positive, we’re thinking of applying for the Pulitzer prize. When the feedback is negative, we want to move to the back of the desert and start an earthworm farm.
Most good writing we read wasn’t done casually, and it’s published at great risk. It’s usually the result of a painstaking effort to link words together in the exact pattern that makes the greatest impact. That takes work, and can be exhausting.
That’s what makes it so good, and why we think the authors are confident.
They’re usually not confident. They just care enough to take the risk.
It’s risky to make a difference. Writers know the risk, but take it anyway. They’re giving us a gift that they’re not required to give.
If they don’t feel like they’re making a difference, they might eventually quit taking those risks.
If we encourage them, they’ll keep risking and writing. And their writing will improve. And they’ll make a bigger difference.
Hug a writer today. Believe me – it won’t go unnoticed.
Want to help a writer improve? Email a copy of this to them with a note that says, “I believe in you.” Share it on Facebook to encourage writers who want to give up. Tweet it, text it, mail it. Let your favorite writer know they’re not alone. Encouragement is the “breakfast of champions.”