09 Jan 37. To the People Who Said You Couldn’t Write
If you’ve ever questioned your ability to write a great book because of what someone else said, this episode is especially for you.
Our brains want to protect us, so they take that kind of negative comment seriously. But that doesn’t mean you have to fall victim to it.
The C+ in English class, the nasty remark from a professor, or the well-meaning redirect of your creativity from your parents–all of it affects your confidence as a writer and your ability to become a successful author.
In this episode, I reveal why those comments have nothing to do with you and how you can get past them and write your book.
Hey there. Welcome to Nothing but the Words. I’m Your Author Coach, Candice L Davis.
When I was in 6th grade, my math-science teacher, Mrs. Thornton, wrote on my report card that I was a “space cadet.”
It was true I liked to day dream. It was true I was often bored in her class. It was true I preferred to stare out the window and think about whatever book I was reading rather than listen to her instruction.
But I had never thought of any of that as bad until she wrote it that way.
I still remember it, so obviously, it made an impression.
When I was in 11th grade, or maybe 12th, I can’t remember, my African American literature teacher asked me, “Did anybody ever tell you that you can write?”
Not in so many words they hadn’t. But my heart skipped when she said it.
She had taken us to see Amiri Baraka and Maya Angelou and read their work, a new experience for me that made me fall even more in love with words and books.
She was an English professor from a nearby university and all the students at my prep school talked about how tough she was.
And she had called me out as a good writer.
That stuck with me too.
All these years later, I still remember it. I remember the combination of surprise and pride and embarrassment I felt when she said it.
Several of my high school teachers left an impression on me, but my literature teacher changed the trajectory of my life because I believed her when she said I could write.
I didn’t go to college and major in English or dive right into a writing career.
I was distracted for years, but I always came back to writing, and since then, I’ve written more than 2 dozen books for my ghostwriting clients and coached hundreds of people to write their own books.
What you’ve been told about your writing ability can have a huge impact on whether or not you’re ever successful in writing a book.
But you get to choose what you want to believe.
I’ve heard horror stories from clients.
Professors who told them they made elementary mistakes.
Teachers who told them they could never be a writer.
Parents who belittled their writing ability.
All of those things can affect if you’re a human being with a human brain that functions like it should.
But you can choose to believe something different.
When I was writing in high school and college and even early in my career as a professional writer, my writing wasn’t that great.
It was better than the writing of a lot of my peers, so I guess everything is relative.
But when I stumble across some of my early writing these days, it’s almost laughable how bad it was.
I kind of knew it was bad, but not really. I didn’t quite understand how to fix it.
So I read writing books. I took classes. I participated in workshops. And I kept writing.
I’m still learning and getting better as a writer. It’s an ongoing process that never ends.
What I wish anyone who told you that you couldn’t write understood is that writing is a skill.
Like all skills, it comes easier to some of us than it does to others.
Like all skills, you can get better at writing.
If you’ve ever had someone shoot you down as a writer, you have everything you need to prove to yourself that they were wrong.
Not to prove them because, frankly, their opinions only mean as much as you want them to when you sit down to write.
But if that negative, naysaying voice is echoing in your head, I have to tell you this.
Anyone who told you:
your writing wasn’t good enough
you didn’t know how to write
you need to go back and learn the writing basics
or you can’t write a book because you can’t spell, don’t know enough grammar,
or whatever other ignorant criticism they came up with
Maybe your writing wasn’t strong back then.
Maybe it still isn’t.
Or as one of my coaches, who’s also a client, likes to say, So what? Now what?
So your writing wasn’t great. So what? Now what are you going to do about it?
I care deeply about the quality of writing, so I would never suggest you go out and write a bad book.
You can, however, get better.
You can develop your writing skills.
You can read a book on writing and practice what you learn.
You can work with a coach to get feedback and ways to improve.
You can take a writing course that meets you where you are and helps you get better.
You can use spell check and a great editor to make sure your spelling is on point.
Listen. If you’ve been convinced, by one comment or many different comments, bad grades, and belittling remarks, that you can’t write well, you may have to work at believing that’s not true.
But it’s worth the work.
Practice believing you can learn what you need to know.
Practice believing you can get better at writing.
Feel sorry for the people who said you were a bad writer.
They didn’t know any better.
They had no clue that you have nearly limited resources at your disposal to develop the skills you need to write a book.
They didn’t know you’re not the kind of person to quit because they said so.
They had no idea you were going to set the world on fire with your phenomenal book.
You’ve got this.
That’s it for today, my friends. If you enjoyed this episode, connect with me on Instagram @candiceldavis. I’m dropping truth and inspiration for all you authors and authors-in-the-making over there too.
Thanks for listening to Nothing but the Words. I’m your Author Coach, Candice L Davis, and I’ll see you next time.