Writing Secrets: Writing makes us humble

 In Tips for Writers

My golf-mad parents used to say: There’s one thing about the game. It keeps you humble.

How much more is this true of writing? It’s easy to let an early success go to one’s head. We’ve all seen this in writers who have just come out with a well-reviewed first novel. (Hell, I’ve seen it in myself.)

For a few heady months there, you’re immortal; impervious. You can do anything.

And then you discover one of writing’s great truths: One good work does not guarantee a second. You have to work at it each time. Writing doesn’t get easier. It gets harder as you try to better your last work and meet expectations – even if only your own.

Writing well requires humility. So it’s best to keep that in mind before the writing itself forces the realisation on you. If you’re too sure of yourself, you stop reading to learn. You stop listening, noticing, being sensitive to the nuances about you.

We can all forget first principles, no matter how experienced we are and how good a writer. Keep coming back to the basics. No matter how long you’ve been writing, you can still learn.

If you think you’re too good to learn from others, you’ll never be truly great. That’s the lesson in humility we all need to learn.

Read Richard’s latest blog ‘Monday Motivation: Grow into your writing

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Showing 2 comments
  • Tracy Todd Heine

    Yes, writing most certainly does make you humble. At the moment I feel as if I’ve got a serious case of stage fright too. I just cannot get going again which is really frustrating. At this rate I’ll take another 15 years to produce my novel.

  • Jo-Anne Richards

    It always feels like that, Tracy. Believe me, you can have written any number of books and each new one is terrifying. It always feels as though you just can’t do it (until you do).

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