When I was in my early teenage years I recognized that in the hearts of my peer group lay one major problem. That problem was pride. The pride of youth that came with the belief that we could achieve anything and be anything; that we could rise above the accomplishments of our elders and improve upon their accomplishments.
Subsequently I focused much of my prayers on asking God to make me a more humble person. I never wanted to let pride become a stumbling block in my life. I will admit that it has created problems on occasion, despite my aspirations otherwise. But a small book by Andrew Murray titled Humility was of great encouragement to me as I matured.
And herein lies the key to understanding what it takes to be a good writer. You must learn humility. A humble writer approaches every story with the recognition that their gift comes from God and that they must use it for good.
We must approach every criticism, critique, or advice with the realization that we are always learning. We are works in progress.
Too many times I have met promising writers who could not accept criticism, even though they asked me for it. Whether old or young they took my feedback on their writing as a personal attack and lashed out. Some outright rejected my recommendations and proceeded as if the advice had never been offered. As a published author my reaction was to withdraw from giving those writers any further assistance.
Several other writers took my feedback and learned from it. They applied what they could and improved their craft. The result in each case was that they works were eventually recognized and a couple even received awards.
We can learn from all of the circumstances that life throws our way, and we must learn to listen to those around us. Certainly we should give greater credibility to the criticisms we receive from experienced writers, but receiving and learning from criticism is a lot harder to do than it is to say.
Humility is the response of a mature individual. It is an act of wisdom. If you want to focus on one character trait that will better position you to be a success as a writer, focus on humility.
Now, I would like to point out that I do believe we can accomplish anything and that we can improve upon the accomplishments of our elders. Though we cannot achieve this if we have not first learned from those who have preceded us, taken their guidance, and humbly applied it where it will impact our lives.
Writing is a journey. We start off as little kids telling stories to our siblings and our friends. Later we jot our stories on paper, maybe adding bits of sketchwork to illustrate them. Finally we type our first major plots into our computer and the sky seems to open for us to share our imagination with the world.
Too many writers ride that initial thrill too high, too fast. As a result their writing suffers from lack of critique and lack of editing. When their first book is released it leaves a dry taste in their readers’ mouths.
That first impression will be everything to your readers. It will either grow your audience, or stifle it. So start with humility. Humbly realize that you need to constantly be learning, constantly improving, constantly seeking guidance in order to be the best writer that God made you to be. Write, receive criticism, revise, receive criticism, and then edit.
You may have been born to be a writer, but humility will be your greatest companion on the journey ahead of you.
Categories: Guest Post