Writers, I believe forgiving ourselves is the secret to moving forward with our creative lives and ultimately achieving success.
After a lengthy period of Writer’s Block I have found my way back to writing and do you know what finally did it for me? Do you know what it was that resulted in me waking up one morning and reaching for my dusty laptop? Forgiving myself for writing the same story the wrong way. Yes I simply said to myself;
Lucy, let’s put aside the fact that you wrote Heartbreak Cafe the wrong way SIX times, that’s just low level detail. You need to forgive yourself and move on. For goodness sake, you wrote your debut novel: Instructions For Falling In Love Again, the wrong way twelve times but no one is counting. Well we are – lol! Let the six versions go eh? Also whilst you are at it, forgive yourself for writing a passive main character too, one who sat back and let things to happen to her. You have to hand it to her, she was one lucky lady! Anyway she’s gone now…after surviving six drafts. This is not a crime and you need to stop punishing yourself. I bet all the literary greats struggled with passive characters and wrote their works of art many times.
Once I forgave myself my back felt a lot lighter. By forgiving myself I had set something free. Looking through my writing journals from the past few years I can see that forgiving myself for creative mistakes has been a reoccurring activity. This is how things go for me. I make a writing mistake; a draft doesn’t work out, a story has to be shelved or I get a rejection in some shape or form, I bundle up all the negative energy with that situation and stick it on my back. Then I carry it around for weeks and even months, until the weight of creative shame becomes too much and my knees buckle. Once on the floor I spend a ridiculous amount of time trying to work out why I can’t get back on my feet. I would just like to say that I don’t think I would make a good ant.
Then I have a brainwave and think maybe I need to forgive myself AGAIN!
So, I go through the motions of forgiving myself which involves me acknowledging the fact I am human and the only way to learn stuff is through mistakes. In a matter of seconds the weight on my back vanishes. The bundle of negative energy never wanted to stay with me. The act of forgiveness set it free.
My creative life moves on once I have forgiven myself.
A list of things from the past four years I have forgiven myself for:
- Not getting anywhere in writing competitions.
- Taking a draft in the wrong direction.
- Writing a draft beta readers dislike.
- Killing off a much loved character.
- Writing a passive character.
- Writing a bad story.
- Writing a dire first chapter.
- Writing a story which bores the hell out of me by chapter three.
One day I want to be able to spot the bundle of negative energy which is attached to a creative mistake and decide not to put it on my back. Instead I will place it carefully on the floor. I would then re-position my oh-so-fancy-Writer’s Hat (next year I intend to wear more hats), smile and walk away…whistling.
As I like to pass on things which work for me, try forgiving yourself if you are going through a writing bad patch. It doesn’t cost anything or requires hours of extra work. You just need to forgive yourself and let the bundle of negative energy go. You can either talk to yourself in the mirror or write it down. Just forgive and move on.
Take care out there x