“The disillusionment with our own abilities is, perhaps,
one of the most important things that can ever happen to us.”
- Tim Hansel
A Little More Self-Reflection
We generally try to keep these newsletters upbeat and positive, so why open with a quote on disillusionment? Surely we’ve all seen enough things that have disillusioned us. Do we really need to be disillusioned with ourselves?
We always want you to be confident in your abilities, and we always want you to know that your words are important. But we also believe it’s important to face reality. Being honest with yourself is how you grow, and more than anything, we want to help you become a better, stronger writer.
This month, let’s take a look at some ways we can help ourselves grow:
1. Break down your writing into categories. Of course, writing can be broken into “technical writing” and “content,” but what are some other areas you want to explore? Maybe you want to break down technical writing into areas like grammar, sentence structure, and spelling. Maybe you want to break content down into areas like character growth, setting scenes, and following traditional story arcs. Once you have your categories, give yourself a grade in each one. Explore how honest each grade feels. How happy are you with that grade? Do you believe you’re capable of improving? Is this an area you want to improve right now, or is it something that isn’t a top priority? Don’t judge yourself too harshly, and don’t feel like you have to share your grades with anyone. This is for you.
2. Look at the shadow side of your strengths. Let’s say your strength is your ability to set a scene. You can make a reader feel like they’re really there on that riverbank, feeling the wind in their hair. How could that possibly be a weakness? Well, maybe you include too many details, or maybe you get so caught up in writing lengthy sentences that you forget to notice when a short sentence would better convey your tone. Or if your strength is marketing on social media, maybe your weakness is your attention span.
3. Do some research into similar authors. If you have writer friends, ask them about their weaknesses and how they overcome them. Follow writers on social media and look for how they’re improving. Grab your favorite author’s autobiography and learn what they have to say about the craft. Chances are good that you’ll learn about challenges you weren’t even aware of.
4. Step outside your arena. Of course you want to focus on becoming a better writer, but what can you learn from other professions that you can take into your own? Maybe you admire the way your doctor’s receptionist streamlines her work, or you’re impressed that your massage therapist always remembers the details of your gossip. Usually we admire what we lack, so if you’re envying your best friend’s work-life balance, that probably highlights an area where you know you need to improve. (The bonus is that the person you want to emulate is right there and you can ask them how they do it!)
5. Ask for advice. Sometimes, the only way to see a blind spot is through a loved one’s eyes. Find a trusted friend and ask them to help you become disillusioned. An important caveat: remember to never take criticism from someone you wouldn’t take advice from!
We hope we've given you some new ideas for self-exploration and self-evaluation (and maybe a little inspiration to take that leap into looking at your work a bit more analytically). While we should never find ourselves chasing the myth of perfection, striving for growth and development not only helps us become better writers, but also provides a beneficial sense of fulfillment and accomplishment. So, go forth and grow, friends!
See you all in May!
- The Joy Editing Team