Do you struggle to call yourself a writer? If so, you’re not alone. Writing coach and author Allison Fallon says that many of the writers she works with struggle with mental obstacles like this one. “The actual practical obstacles to writing are not that hard to overcome,” Allison says. “It’s the mental obstacles that are the hardest.”
Based on her experience coaching countless writers, Allison shares four false beliefs writers must overcome to make progress in their work.
Some people receive a lot of affirmation about their writing early in their lives, which helps them call themselves writers from the get-go. However, many of us take a circuitous route to writing or begin writing later in life. We may not have the affirmation of others because much of our work has been done in private.
“Writers worry that they’re not a real writer.” — Allison Fallon
If you're looking for permission to call yourself a writer, here it is: A writer is someone who writes. Are you writing words somewhere that you may share with a reader someday? Then you are a real writer — it’s time for you to believe it. Calling yourself a writer is foundational to moving forward and making progress like one.
Allison says that writers often tell her, “I don’t have the time to write, or this will be a waste of time.”
The truth is, we make time for the things we value. If we believe our writing matters because we have something valuable to offer readers, we will make time to put words on the page. Many writers are also full-time employees, parents, caregivers, or business owners. Every one of them has to trade off something in their lives to make time to write.
Rather than seeing our responsibilities as an obstacle to our writing, let’s reframe how we view them. Our real life is what makes our writing so rich. We need a well from which we can draw our stories and on which we can base our message. Use your life as inspiration, not an excuse to avoid writing.
That’s right, you don’t! Every idea has been written about before, but that shouldn’t stop you from adding to the larger body of work. It’s not worth dwelling on the fact that your idea is not new to the world — it’s your spin, your experience, your slant, and your voice that make the writing unique. If a topic is written about repeatedly, it’s because there is an audience for it.
What is your take on the topic? How is it different from the other writers you’ve read? Rather than saying, “I don’t have any new ideas,” try asking yourself how you can approach your idea with a fresh perspective no one has seen before.
Every writer begins their deepest work in private. We make order from the chaos of our ideas in our personal writing long before we share it with others. Focus on developing your idea and your voice first. Don’t worry about where, when, or how you’ll find an audience to engage with your work.
The internet makes it possible for anyone to publish with a click of a button. Your time will come to find the right medium for your work. Think of your reader, the one person to whom you’re writing, rather than the audience at large. Publishing to an audience has never been easier. It’s putting pen to page that will always remain the hardest part of the work.
Are you struggling with any of these false beliefs? Allison shares her number one tip for moving forward in your work in her chat with hope*writers. Click here for free access to our entire conversation and take one step towards balancing the art of writing with the business of publishing.