On Writing: It’s just you and the words

Unprecedented days. If you’re struggling, you’re not alone – and you know what – unless you are one of our magnificent and brave frontline/essential services workers, not afforded the option of self-isolating – staying safe, healthy and sane are all that most of us need to concentrate on right now.

For the writers among us, productivity may have waned, which may also have us feeling a strange kind of guilt, so I thought I’d share this Facebook post from 2011:

This was a much appreciated ‘break in the clouds’ at the time, and if it helps any emerging writer to go easy on themselves, I’m happy to share that it took me so many years to finish Lady Beth. It was always a marathon. It was never a sprint.

For most of that time, I was riddled with self-doubt. Convinced myself that no-one would want to read it. That no-one would be interested in what I had to say. Then it happened. I got a break – someone saw the potential. And it fired me up again. I kept at it – for another six years until I published it on 2017 – though I continued to struggle. (Still do!) But what I’ve learned is that if it’s in your blood to be a writer, you’ll be one.

It will and should take time. You will and should have difficult days when you question why and what for. You’ll be sticking your neck out, your ego out, your vulnerability. Not everyone will be kind and supportive. Those voices might even deafen you. Paralyse you.

Consider those battle scars as ammunition. Wear those nasty paper cuts with pride as you learn to push aside the negative forces. Shove them out of your way so that you can hear those others. The positive voices. The encouragers. The mentors. The enablers.

Take your time. You’ll be honing your craft ‘til the day you die. Be open to making mistakes, but also be open to learning from them. It’s not a competition. It’s just you and the words. Tell your stories. Take all the time you need to tell them in your unique voice.

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A writer and filmmaker, Caroline is the author of the novel LADY BETH and the writer/director the short film FRAMED (2018). An award-winning screenwriter, she has also written the short films IN RIBBONS (2015) and ADAM (2013). 

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