Taking The Pressure off Yourself
Updated: Jun 9, 2022
By Anita Ukaenwe
As writers we often suffocate ourselves within our passion. It’s so easy to stress ourselves out with unwritten rules and expectations. However, this is dangerous and instead of encouraging us to be better and write better, it can cause us to feel resentment towards the thing we once loved.
Word counts, deadlines, even plot lines and character arcs are all essentials when it comes to progressing as a writer. But when we let these things control us rather than control them, it’s very easy for us to feel suffocated by our WIP when it’s supposed to be your escape into a marvellous, fictional world.
So, the question is:
How do you differentiate between self-pressure and self-discipline?
Self pressure is a talented young writer, scrolling through their Instagram, admiring how much one of the people they follow is able to write a day. This person now feels inclined to write the same amount, despite the fact that their timetable is entirely different. Failure to reach this unrealistic goal then frustrates and demotivates them. Self-doubt starts to linger.
Self-discipline is a talented young writer, scrolling through their Instagram, admiring how much one of the people they follow writes a day. With this free time, they go to their notebook and scribble down some ideas for a fictional world. They smile at their ideas and designate 30 minutes every Saturday evening to develop them. They’re excited to expand her imagination during the week. Progress is continuously being made.
Self pressure is a talented young writer who prefers to write detective fiction, but because YA fantasy seems to be what’s in, they feel inclined to write that too. They force themselves to be who they are not and write what isn’t truly from their heart, which in the end frustrates and demotivates them. Self-doubt starts to linger.
Self discipline is a talented young writer who prefers to write detective fiction, however because YA fantasy is trending, they decide to read a few for entertainment but also because they would love to learn a few things about how amazing world building in fantasy is, so they can implement them into her detective novel. Progress is continuously being made.
Self pressure is a talented young writer who has finished draft 1 of their first ever novel and wants to start draft 2. They read over it again and again but when their fingers hit the keyboard, nothing comes out. They have new ideas that are trapped inside their mind but won’t let themselves write them down until this is finished. They feel unworthy, demotivated and in the end, self-doubt starts to linger.
Self discipline is a talented young writer who has finished draft 1 of their first ever novel and wants to start draft 2. However suddenly she gets a new idea for a series of short stories with less serious themes. She notices editing draft 1 is starting to feel overwhelming so she spends her next few writing sessions doing her new short stories and creating art for them. Progress is being made.
If you can resonate to any of the self-pressure scenarios, I implore you to take it easy and go where your creativity leads, not where you think it should. Take the burden off your own shoulders and be free and original. You were not made to write like them or when they write, so be careful to not let inspire turn to comparison. The ability to express yourself through writing should be to exercise your gift voluntarily and should never feel like an obligation.
If you’re getting tired of a project, you don’t have to continue.
If you don’t like writing YA fantasy, you don’t have to.
If you only have time for 200 words a week, that’s enough!
Every writer has their own unique journey and there will be a series coming on writer journeys and the lessons we can extract from them, so, keep going!
Remember that you do owe yourself practice but that is not restricted. Writing practice could be as simple as a journal, a poem about your feelings or even editing some of your old work.
So, to conclude please, by all means, discipline yourself so you can reach your full potential but don’t ever pressure yourself to be or do xyz. A journey of 1000 miles begins with one step.