Friday, September 1, 2017

11 Pieces of Encouragement Writers Need to Hear

Writers. If somebody tries to look over our shoulder while we're writing, we cover the words in horror and give the person a dirty look. Or turn around and say politely:

"Look, I don't mean to be rude, but this is not as easy at is looks, so I'd appreciate it if you wouldn't distract me."

Though, mostly, it's the former.

Why do writers do this? Let me sum up:

We spend a lot of time up in our heads, asking questions, creating characters, and writing stories. We do most of this alone. We're so close to our own writing that it becomes a part of us: It reflects our time, our ideas, our skills.

So the thought of other people reading our writing is scary, because what if what we just wrote completely sucks? We just foolishly wasted our time. What if the idea is dumb? Then we must be dumb, too. What if the writing isn't clever or noteworthy? Then maybe we aren't either of those things, either.

And here's the thing: None of these things are true. We writers are not our drafts. We are not wasting our time, nor does a clunky paragraph make us clunky people. Sometimes, we know this. But sometimes most of the time, we need a reminder.

If you know a writer, then you can be this reminder for them. Here are 11 phrases that writers need to hear on a regular basis. So either tell your writer friend or, if you are a writer, walk over to a mirror and tell yourself.
11 Pieces of Encouragement Writers Need to Hear
1. *massive, impressed smile* "You're writing a book/story/poem? That is so cool!" Sometimes writers just need to be reminded that yes, what they're doing is cool. It's not doom and gloom and horrible and frustrating and all of the other things that writers think when their project gets tough. Not only does this make us writers feel appreciated, but it reminds us to appreciate ourselves.

2. "I'd love to read it if you ever need a second pair of eyes!" Note: Asking, "Can I read it?" can scare a writer about as much as shampoo scares Snape. Writers love to know that people want to read their work, but maybe they just don't want it read right at that moment. Thus, letting them know that you're there when the need arises is both helpful and encouraging.

3. "Your idea/book/poem/story sounds amazing!" Whenever they tell you about your story, this is the response they need to hear. Even if their descriptions were rambling. Even if they trailed off mid-sentence and turned the color of Merlin's scarf (neckerchief? I'm not sure). In fact, especially if that's what happened. Now, of course, if they told you their idea because they were asking for feedback, lead with this statement but also offer constructive help. Praise, but offer kind tips and thoughts. Unless they didn't ask for your opinion, in which case: Just be nice.

4. "I really liked ____ about your idea/writing." Mention at least one specific thing you really liked about your writer's idea (or writing...if it's published or if they let you read their work). This will convince them that there is something genuinely good about their work and that you aren't just lying about liking it. Because yes, we do often suspect friends and family of sparing our feelings. In fact, we often have to keep ourselves from squinting at them and saying:
Or maybe just whispering: "Friends don't lie."

5. "Just take your time. Do you know the number of times a writer will question a story that they've been hacking away at for years (or months...depending on how long it usually takes them to write a book)? The number is high. Very high. Some writers just need to hear that it's okay that their book is taking a long time to write.

6. "I would/will totally read that!" Don't say you will if you have no intention of doing so. That's rude. And say "would" if you actually would read it, but it's not published/completed yet. Not, "Yeah, I would totally read that if [insert excuse here]." That is also rude.

7. "Those idiots don't know a good thing when they see it." For when they're gobbling up chocolate in a corner after receiving an unkind rejection letter. Offering to help them burn the publishing house down would also probably be appreciated, but that's not moral or legal, so please don't. The more wholesome plan B would be to talk about all of the amazing authors that were rejected multiple times. Just Google it. There are an insane amount.

8. "I love this character!" Seriously. Knowing a person likes our character is not only exciting (because "oh my gosh, I love that character too! What a coincidence!"), but is also proof that we didn't completely fail in the character-creation department. You'll get major brownie points if you mention that you ship Character A with Character B. Major points. And possibly an excited squeal.

9. "This story made me laugh/cry." Seriously. If you read their story and it evoked emotion, TELL THEM. Causing strong emotion is a sign that the story was well-done, so hearing this from a reader is basically hearing that you have succeeded as a writer.

10. "I can't wait to read more!" If they let you read their precious project (or if it's published and you're writing a review/tweeting them/messaging them/emailing them/help-me-I-can't-stop-giving-examples), this is a massive compliment. You've just given your writer a reason to keep creating stories.

11. "You can do this." Simply telling your writer that you believing in them means more than they could ever express in an entire novel.

Beyond that, there are a plethora of things you can do to encourage your writer. Such as: Don't ask these 12 questions, try to understand how our minds work (but don't look too closely or your brain might explode), and help them find times to write.

If they're published authors: Read their book, review it, purchase copies to give to friends, and buy a hot air balloon and parachute copies of their work down into highly populated areas.

If you yourself are a writer: Try to tell yourself some of these words of encouragement. And absolutely go share them with your writers friends, both online and in real life. Dropping these pieces of encouragement randomly will make somebody's day.

Now, armed with this knowledge, go forth and free yourself and others from the shackles of despondent creativity. Go on. Go. Fly away, Stanley. Be free!


Have writing or reading questions? Use the hashtag #ChatWithHannah in the comment section or on social media to have them answered on my Youtube channel!
Related articles:
5 Steps to Fighting Off Writer's Insecurity
10 Reasons Why Writers Aren't the Weird Ones 
12 Writing Myths You Need to Stop Believing 

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37 comments:

  1. Just in time! I was beginning to seriously doubt my current WIP. I always struggle with my draft being ridiculous, but then I need to remember, all the books I've read and loved are not sloppy drafts, they had to be edited into the amazing stories they are today.

    By the way, wouldn't it be great if someone actually did fly around delivering free books by hot-air balloon?

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    1. Yes! It's so important to remembering that the books we read are finishing products, but the ones we're writing are not. And, of course, we're too close to it to be able to judge properly. =D

      It would be AMAZING if people did hot-air balloon book giveaways. I would be staring up at the sky all day, just waiting for my next read. =D

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  2. I'm going to make my siblings read this! And book delivery by hot air balloon should definitely be a thing.

    www.fransthinkings.blogspot.com

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    1. Haha! Awesome. This is a good thing for siblings to understand. =)

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  3. These definitely help. I think my problem is I have too many different universe/character ideas and can never decide where to start lol.

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    1. Well, at least you're not completely void of ideas. =D Glad this post helped!

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  4. Seriously needed so much of this! Thanks Hannah!

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    1. Yay! So pleased to be of help. You are an awesome writer (and person), Alena! Keep up the epic work.

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  5. SO TRUE. Especially when someone gives me the first or third; I absolutely glow. :)

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    1. Right? I can't stop smiling when I here those. =)

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  6. Alright where do I fund the free book hot air balloon? Oh my gosh that would be so cool! You could set up a system where the people who wanted books would give their address to the balloon operator, and the balloon operator would float over their house and play music like an ice cream truck, and lower the book down in a basket, and this is a really cool idea, can I steal this?

    Also, *gasp* You watch Merlin?! and I think that was a Cars reference?

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    1. Haha! Wouldn't that be the best? Somebody needs to get a kickstarter up and running. =D You can totally take this idea and run with it...as long as you promise I get the first book delivery. =D

      YES! I love Merlin. And yes, that was a Cars reference. =D *high five* Good catch!

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    2. Deal!

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  7. Loved the Princess Bride references! I cracked up when I read the first quote. XD
    This post was great! I'll have to save this for when I need some encouragement. :)

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    1. Haha! Thank you. That movie is one of my favorites. =D

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    1. Right? 9 is the best. Or when somebody tells me they re-read something I wrote. *snaps fingers* Darn. I should have put that in the post...

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  9. Ahh! Great post! *goes to share it with all writer friends*

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    1. Yay! Thanks for sharing, Sara. Glad it resonates with you. =D

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  10. I have a LOT of trouble sharing my writing. I remember in high school I wrote a short fiction story for a class, but I almost considered not even handing it in because I was sure it was an awkward, rambling, directionless mess. The teacher loved it so much she shared it with the entire English department. It's so hard to judge your own work.

    Knowing this still doesn't make it much easier to let others see my work, though, especially since I mostly write about personal themes - my struggles with mental illness are part of what inspire many of my stories. I also tend to write self-insert characters, and I generally assume that nobody wants to read those. It doesn't hurt to only write for myself, though, and I still get a lot of fulfillment out of it.

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    1. That is SO cool, Blake! You make a great point: It's so hard to judge our own work.

      As for you inserting personal themes into your stories: That is awesome. Though it may not seem like it, many people struggle with similar issues. Not the exact same, but enough to make your writing something special to them. So while you are writing to you, I'm sure your themes will mean a lot to many other people.

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  11. This is so helpful! I get so terrified sharing my writing, especially with people older than me.

    I don't know if you take suggestions for posts, but I've always found arguments really difficult to write. Could you perhaps do one on that?

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    1. Yes, I'm always up for a post suggestions! I keep a list of requests and pull from it whenever I need a topic. =D I've added yours to the list and am excited to write about it. Until then, this post on writing emotions might help: http://hannahheath-writer.blogspot.com/2016/06/7-tips-for-writing-emotion-into-your.html

      Thanks for the great comment, Katia!

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  12. These are perfect! I wish we could tell these points to all the non-writers in the world.

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    1. Haha! Same here. =D Glad you enjoyed the post!

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  13. I shared this with a group of my writer friends and they love it. Thanks!

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  14. Agh, yes to all of these! These would definitely brighten my day! ^_^

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    1. Well, in that case: You're writing a book/story/poem? That is so cool! Take your time. You are going to do awesome!

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  15. LOVE the "Cars" reference at the end!! Thank you so much for this post, Hannah. Keep up the good work!

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    1. I couldn't remember the exact quote, so some epic people on Facebook helped me find it. Glad it was worth it. =D

      Thank you so much for the sweet comment, Claire! I appreciate it.

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  16. Hannah, this post was just what I needed right now! I've been horribly frustrated that my book is taking so long to write. I appreciated the Princess Bride reference, too!

    ~Ursi

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    1. I'm so excited to hear this, Ursi. Take your time. My book is also taking a long time, but that's okay. We'll get there someday.

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  17. Yes! I really struggle in letting people read what I wrote. It all sounds so horrible when other people read it, and I'm so self-conscious about it. (I'm also horrible at accepting compliments) Recently, someone read something I wrote to a room full of people and I felt like sinking to the floor. One of my friends told me how good it was and I think I told him he was crazy - but he went on to encourage me, and that was something I really needed to hear. I tell myself how horrible my writing is often enough - having someone correct me does feel good, as conceited as that sounds.

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    1. That totally doesn't sound conceited. We all need somebody to tell us that we're on the right path. Especially if you have a tendency to be self-conscious about your writing (like me). Maybe find a friend who will follow you around and remind you of your great writing skills? =D

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