You Don’t Need to Become a Better Writer

Every day, I get a message from a writer who wants to be “better.”

They want advice on how to improve their craft or what it takes to get an agent or how to break through their creative blocks. But often what they really want is affirmation that they’re good enough.

And they’re missing the point.

Socks in air
Photo Credit: Pink Sherbet Photography via Compfight cc

You don’t need to become better; you need to be bolder.

In order to get the kind of attention your words deserve, you need to earn our trust, to give people permission to be themselves. And the best way to do that is to go first. To tell that story of abuse. Confess your fears. Admit you were wrong.

Only when you go there, when you risk utter humiliation and rejection, will we listen to what you have to say.

Until then, you’re just wasting your words.

Writing isn’t about being good

It’s about telling the truth.

“Good” is about what other people think. It’s about badges and accolades and pleasing the masses.

Trying to be “good” gives other people permission to hold you back, to keep you from being who you are: a writer.

Yes, you a writer. One who writes. Not necessarily one who is published or praised. But someone who uses words to create change. And you don’t need to become “better.” You need to start telling the truth.

When we tell our truth, we tap into the part of the unconscious self we’re afraid of, the part people need. You may think of this as your soul; whatever the name, it’s what creates the kind of connection people need, the kind that changes lives.

Good isn’t good enough

Good won’t get you where you want to go. It won’t get you published, and it certainly won’t earn you a raving fan base. Only honesty can do that.

The problem is most writers seek first the approval of others and then chase their art — when it ought to be the other way around.

If you are going to say something worth our attention, something we haven’t heard before, you must be yourself. Write from the heart even, no especially, when it scares you.

Because that’s the stuff worth reading.

Good will come (eventually)

If you do this over and over, if you keep practicing not in safe places but out in public where people can see you fail, you will get better.

You will stop making those same stupid mistakes you made in high school. You will find your voice and the confidence that comes with practice.

In other words, you will be good. But not my good or your parents’ good. Your good. The only kind that matters.

If you want to join a community of writers who are committed to boldly sharing their stories and telling the truth, check out Tribe Writers, which just relaunched. Read more here.

How have you believed the myth of “better” when you should’ve been bolder? Share in the comments.