When compared to other forms of creativity, writing a novel is probably the most challenging undertaking a person could be a part of. Not only can you feel as though you have wasted countless hours, days, and years– only to find out it is ‘terrible’– but you can, and most likely will, become so personally attached to it that you attach your ego and ability as a writer to the first rejection letters or negative reviews. On the positive side, these completely natural, but ego driven fears, can be transformed into a positive thing by ensuring you are only putting out the best you can offer. But, if you aren’t careful, you can channel that fear into negativity. This negativity will most likely prevent you from releasing your work altogether or even worse, hold you back from taking the next step on the way to reaching your full potential as the artist or even the human being you want to become.
Writing a novel is a life lesson in itself, but the more tangible and definable lessons are those in self-love and patience. It is all too easy to compare your work and your skills to those before you and worry about how well it will or won’t be received. But when you think about this idea and its deeper roots in human nature, it’s easy to see why our self-proclaimed masterpiece and the criticism that comes attached to it is viewed and felt as a direct reflection of self-worth.
Yes, any form of creativity is a reflection of your heart and soul, a reflection of your creative abilities, and is inherently something that is inseparable from those things. But at the same time, while we are here as human beings we are learning and growing, and these two fundamental building blocks of all life and evolution are always, well, active. They are always moving… never at a standstill of finished perfection. Those who channel their fears in a negative way will surely take many, many years to release their novel or release their work because they are always questioning, “is this the best I can do? Maybe I should wait until tomorrow… tomorrow I will be better”. While this may be an overarching true statement, it is a statement that will most likely prevent you from taking a leap and living in the present moment with the beauty of who you are here and now. We are always growing, evolving, and improving, whether we realize it or not, so by this same logic, we will always be seeking tomorrow’s improvement instead of seizing today’s imperfect perfection.
Understanding the difference between fear and patience is vital in the creative process. Patience knows that you are still learning and still growing, and knows that you want your work to be what you imagined it to be. Working toward that goal and being patient with ‘you’ throughout the process is healthy. But knowing when you have done the best you can do, at this point in your life, at this point in your creative journey and letting it fly… that takes real self-love and self-patience. Patience because you know that you are whole as you are, today, flaws and all, and realizing that this is true about your work as well, even if tomorrow you will probably be better. When you begin to love your work like you love yourself and have the same patience with your work, as you do yourself, you realize that it too will be and is completely whole and perfect as it is– even if your next piece of work tomorrow might be better. If you don’t have this patience with yourself, yet, use your creative work as a platform to build this skill.
This concept doesn’t only apply to writing, but to every other form of creativity. Don’t let fear get in the way of taking the leap; whether it is the beginning of a creative journey or the final stages. For if you have love and patience with yourself, you will automatically release any fears you have attached with your work. You can let the creativity flow, you can have the patience to be criticized or even fail, and you can let your work be seen by the world without crippling terror because you know you have done your best during this stage of your life journey and that is good enough for today.
As a man in his late twenties who has just published his first novel, I have dealt with and still do deal with every single fear and thought above on a daily basis. Part of writing this post is affirming to myself and reminding myself of these truths. It is a constant battle between ego and soul, heart and mind, confidence and self-worth. There is a serene beauty in the absolute vulnerability that comes with writing from your heart and laying it out for the world to see. The lesson is one in vulnerability and the pay–off is the cessation of the need to be ‘better than’ or ‘as good as’ someone else. Someone will always be more talented, more successful, better looking etc… It is deleting this level of thought the best we can as human beings and not allowing our ego driven competitive nature and fear of judgment to control the destiny of our heart and souls work.
As I move forward, my plans are to write non-fiction. My experience writing a fiction novel was one I will never forget. Will I ever write one again? Only time will tell.