When writing fiction, I work alone with just my imagination and manuscript to keep me company. When I’m in the flow and the muse is powerfully coursing through me, I’m oblivious to the outside world. I live and breathe my writing and do everything I can to protect the time I have to write.
Then suddenly something internal or external makes me hesitate, lose my footing, my confidence wanes, insecurity grows and I begin to doubt myself and question what I’m doing and why. All sorts of arguments flood my mind about wasting my time and squandering opportunities. The same sorts of criticism and judgement I grew up with and have faced much of my life for being different, a daydreamer, introverted and overly sensitive threaten to turn me small and defensive and vulnerable.
Over the years, I’ve mastered strategies for silencing the internal and crippling critic, and separating myself from people I’ve attracted who make me feel less than and ridiculed. I’ve even learned to be grateful for the negative feedback, understanding how much I benefit from hearing how my work is viewed by others and with the belief that going unnoticed is far worse than any amount of negativity.
Even so, often, once I’ve tumbled into the mire, finding my way back to my deepest passion can take days, sometimes months and even years before I’m ready with a renewed confidence to again free fall into the flow of the unknown.
The comment in the image on the left came from a writer (thank you, Wendy!). Hearing that the work I offer makes a difference in writers’ lives gives me a burst of joy and well-being and strengthens my commitment to wade deeper into choppy waters.
For some, empowering others threatens their position, as if there is a scarcity of spots at the top, not room enough for all of us to be successful. Others caution not to give too much praise or you’ll lessen the impact and deaden incentive.
I’m not so sure there is ever enough praise when venturing into unexplored territory and offering new ideas that may go against the prevailing norm. For me, I find myself scurrying back into my writing cave and in front of the camera, motivated and engaged in my work when I receive:
- Positive email messages
- Social media comments
- Book reviews
- Referrals to my books, consultations, video programs
Hearing specific positive feedback about my work allows me to understand what resonates and supports writers, and feeds my creativity. And, I’d like to say here: Thank you! Being appreciated for my contributions and sacrifices fills my spirit and makes me want to work harder to find more ways to give back.
Using the structure of the universal story in a plot consultation and a keen ear for what’s working and what’s not, I give guidance how to make stories work, bring out the qualities that may be missing, reframe confusing, weak and convoluted scene arrangements and character inconsistencies, envision how the positive aspects can be used to create a more dynamic story design and strengthen the elements that make each individual story whole. Rather than focus on what is not working, I use a positive inquiry approach, concentrating on how to help writers bring their visions to life. My goal is to effect positive change in writers’ stories and inspiration to give the very best you have to offer. Well aware of what it takes to write a novel, memoir, screenplay from beginning to end, I want writers to hang up after working with me feeling more able to succeed.
As writers, many of us go through days without receiving encouragement. We harshly criticize ourselves and our writing and often give up, meaning the stories we’re drawn to tell may never find their way out into the world. The power of encouragement and approval is essential for new ideas to flourish and new voices to be heard. What better pick-me-up is there than admiration for trying, striving and attempting what is often difficult, daunting and takes a long time to perfect.
“To see things in the seed, that is genius”, said Lao-tzu, the Chinese philosopher.
When giving feedback, critiques, reviews always search for the mighty oak in the acorn. Praise keeps writers writing, boosts morale and increases confidence to keep at it. Writing a story with a plot from beginning to end can take countless drafts over many years. High confidence is the fuel that keeps us enthusiastically believing in our work and ourselves.