We all have our favorite writers—the ones we feel write just for us.
On each page, we feel their authenticity shining through. We don’t just read their words, we also feel them in a visceral way.
In our own writing, that type of authenticity can be elusive. We second-guess every word and worry about whether anyone will ever want to read our work.
These are three things that helped me write more authentically and overcome self-criticism.
1. Appreciate The Process
Buddhism teaches there’s suffering in life (and there’s joy too). The ultimate goal is nirvana, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t plenty to appreciate along the way. First, there are the truly hard things in life (old age, sickness, and death). Then there are minor annoyances, like the way our daily lives can wear us down. We have to do the same things over and over. As soon as we’ve cleaned our house, it’s dirty and needs to be cleaned again.
When you’re trying to finish a manuscript, every rewrite can be excruciating. You’re more than ready to be done, but it’s just not there yet. Enjoy the beauty of the process. See the hints of promise in your current draft and take a breath. Be patient. Things take time. Even when you leave a relationship because it no longer works for you, it doesn’t mean that the entire relationship was a waste. Was cleaning your house a waste of your time because it only got dirty again? No, and neither is your rough draft.
2. Write Without Ambition
Write just to write. Don’t hinge your self-worth on whether you get published or not. If you’re constantly worrying about the final outcome or second-guessing your words, you won’t get far. Pack away your judgment, and let the words flow. Buddhism teaches that emotions are a natural part of us, and we shouldn’t try to suppress them. We tell ourselves we shouldn’t feel this way or that. And that doesn’t help or feel good. So write without judgment. Feel every word.
3. Embrace The Struggle
In our lives, we do whatever we can to minimize pain and maximize pleasure. When we’re suffering, we don’t always want to know why. We just want it to stop. However, when you’re reading about someone else’s suffering, you want to know why. You want to poke at it and see what comes up. By making sense of the character’s suffering, we hope to make sense of our own.
The most impactful books stick with us. They speak to us and touch on our own pain. We use reading as a cathartic release. When characters work through their problems, it’s therapeutic for us. So embrace the pain in your writing whether writing your memoir or writing fiction. When you write about struggles, disappointments, and heartbreak, your writing becomes richer and all the more real to your reader.
Writing is a process that can’t be rushed. When you spend too much time thinking about the end goal, you don’t invest in the process. It’s rushed, and anything you write rings false. To write from your true heart, you have to appreciate each stage and embrace all the emotions that come along with each one.
What has helped you be more authentic in your writing? Please leave me a comment. I’d love to hear from you!