Monday, July 26, 2010

Just Write It

I was a professional journalist for 16 years, and in that time, I saw a LOT of tremendous writing.

I knew tons of incredibly talented people who blew me out of the water pretty much on a regular basis when it came down to their way with words.

And yet, I showed up for work every day.

I showed up every day, and I wrote, and I reported, and I did a good job. Sometimes I did a great job. There were many stories of which I was especially proud. There were others that really, really sucked (which happens if you write often enough).

Why am I telling you this?

Because I want you all to stop feeling not good enough.

There will ALWAYS be someone who can write better.

But there is no one who can write just like you.

Each of us brings our own unique experience and life view and ideas to our writing. If you worry that you can't compete, that you're out of your league, then you will be paralyzed.

What is that saying? If you think you can't, then you can't.

It's accurate.

Thing is, you're all here because you want to write. And writing is work. There are ways to get technically better. Some of you have never been edited, never had the benefit of guidance on organization or sentence structure or tense or showing instead of telling.

And that's okay. That's the easier stuff and all you have to do is ask for help (and submit something to The Red Dress Blog, of course!).

The harder stuff is believing in yourself. Believing that you are original, that you have something to say, that your writing - that YOU - deserve to be heard.

Stop using it as an excuse not to put yourself out there.

Not every word will be a gem. Believe me when I say even Shakespeare laid a turd every now again. We ALL do.

So yes, someone will write better.

But no one will write like you.


  1. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. I have been so scared to think I can actually write anything and yet your words today have convinced me otherwise. I needed a shot of courage and you gave that to me.

  2. Great read Cheryl.... writing or any other form of expression should be only for us... let the critics say what they feel... the point is we should have been able to say what we wanted to.. There could be no greater satisfaction than that

  3. Well said, Cheryl.
    You're absolutely right.

  4. I needed that, thanks Cheryl!

  5. i could publish a book on the turds i've laid! :) relevant and inspiring post cheryl!!

  6. That is a perfect boost for a Monday. Thank you!

  7. Amen to that :)
    Thank you. I think we all need to print this post out and plaster it on the fridge or a cabinet or somewhere....

  8. Now that is what I call a pep talk! :)

  9. Glad it's resonating. I just don't want to see anyone NOT write because they're intimidated by other writers. I never would've gotten out of bed if I felt that way!

    We should all be inspired by great writers. Examine them. See what you like about them. Learn from them.

  10. I NEEDED to read that today. Sitting here among the greatness of the writers on ths blog is daunting and discouraging. Deep down, though, I feel like I just have to keep doing this. It's a need that must be fulfilled, there's a purpose for me in this if nothing more than I am recording forever who I am and what is important to me.

  11. Haha, even Shakespeare laid a turd. I just bet he did, lol

    Thanks, Cheryl!

    ~that rebel, Olivia

  12. Thanks so much for this! I definitely need to hear this. Now if I can just act on it. I'm loving this blog, it's such an encouraging and supportive place. Thanks!

  13. I'd love to see what else might possibly come up under the "even Shakespeare laid a turd" label (and now my Droid has learned a new word, who knew it didn't know "turd" - Droid must not have an 8 year old boy in the house.) Thanks for the much needed pep talk. I've been suffering from a bad case of not-good-enough-itis paralysis myself lately (thus the month between blog posts.) You made me laugh and helped me to remember the inspiration/perspiration ratio for anything (10%/90% right?) So now its nose back to the grindstone (what? Droid didn't know that, either? WTF, Droid, get a bigger vocabulary!)

  14. (and now my Droid has learned a new word, who knew it didn't know "turd" - Droid must not have an 8 year old boy in the house.)

    HA! Sad but true!!

  15. Thank you for the encouragement! I love writing and know that I will KEEP WRITING, but I have had absolutely no critiquing or guidance or instruction beyond undergrad English, so I'm not sure if sometimes, others are thinking, "Hmmm, she is making mistakes." I'll need to submit something for critique soon in order to know if I'm on the right track or how to improve.

  16. One thought is, when you link your meme for the Red Writing Hood, you can put on the post if you'd like it critiqued.

  17. For years I avoided putting anything I'd written out there for people to read. The primary reason for this was fear of total suckitude. A lot has changed about my attitude toward writing, and thanks to places like this, I'm more encouraged than ever to keep going. Thanks TRDC! Great post, Cheryl.

  18. Thanks for the encouragement!

  19. Oh, and I'm sorry for critiquing memes. I am truly sorry if I wasn't encouraging. I'll pay better attention to directions from here on out. Promise.

  20. Stacey - oh no! don't worry about it! I was just saying that maybe people would like their memes critiqued. Good for you for already doing it - I'm sure it was appreciated!! We didn't specify it one way or the other!

  21. OK thanks for the pep talk, now I need to go talk to myself a bit more :-)

  22. Thank you Cheryl! This made all the difference in the world to me. Most definitely something I needed to hear today. I have retweeted and will look at getting some work for critiquing. Input is so valuable in growing and learning.

    Thanks again!

  23. Hahaha. Droid must not have visited my blog. ;) This was a fantastic reminder. I tend to forget that I am my own worst critic. I'm up for honest critiquing too. I know my tenses are in bad shape.

  24. Great posting!
    Well said! I totally agree with you!
    Following you!

    Have a great Tuesday :)

  25. I think that should be a mantra: "even Shakespeare laid a turd every now and then". I might even tell my class this.

  26. Dear God,

    Thank you for creating Cheryl so that she could write this post on Monday.


    P.S. I still want to be a writer when I grow up :)


Write it!