Positive Writer

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Why Write? Overcome The Critic (and The Dude!)

Drumroll, please! I present to you the champion of the “How Writing Has Positively Influenced YOUR Life” writing contest: “Why Write” by Troy McLaughlin. Join me in congratulating Troy in the comments below.

I have a friend who loves to write. I’m more along the lines of Hemingway, bleeding on the page. Not literally, but it’s still painful.

Pain.

It’s doled out by the critic and the dude.

The writing critic and the dude.

Whether it’s the critic, saying I misspelled or omitted a word or some other grammar mistake. Or the dude inside my head who says “this sucks”, “why try”, or “nobody is going to read this.” I label him the F word. No, not that F word. No, the one that ends in “r.” You know fear.

When I write I feel like the machete wielding explorer whose blazing a trail in a dense forest but getting whacked, scratched, and nicked along the way. The critic, and the guy inside my head know how to poke and prod every bruise and every wound inflicted on the journey.

They seem to miss the trail I’ve made. They just point out the limbs I didn’t cut; the dude with his words of discouragement and the critic pointing out all my grammar mistakes.

You may be one who loves grammar, the comma, period, or the perfect sentence. Me, not so much.

The perfect sentence?

Ha! I’m begging for words. I’m hoping my words are more than “this sucks.” I’m hoping the guy inside my head finally shuts up and goes away. He never does. I’m hoping the critic shows some grace, not sure if he knows what the word means.

So why write?

Why?

Why put up with the pain, the hassle, the critic, the dude?

That’s the question we writers all have to answer. It’s not someone else’s why either. That won’t get you very far. Maybe it’s love like my friend, or maybe it’s a combination of love and something else you believe. But it has to be yours, and yours alone.

Jeff Goins says you need to call yourself a writer. It’s his reason. It works for him.

I need what works for me.

You need what works for you.

Find it.

Find what works for you. It may be the same thing each time you face the empty page, it may change every time. Doesn’t matter much, what matters is, you embracing your reason.  Frankly who cares what someone else’s reason is, they’re not writing for you.

Here’s my reason now. Like I said it might change. I’m not in love with writing, but I am in love with what writing can do. I’m in love with the magic of words, and how they can transform others. How they can encourage others. How they can paint when there’s no paint. How they can create something beautiful by stringing letters together on a page.

Your reason is the only one that will carry you when the critic shows up. Your reason is the only one to tell the dude to shut up and come back another day.

Now it’s your turn.

It’s your boat to navigate, your water to sail.

Go.

Go write.

By Troy McLaughlin

About Bryan Hutchinson

I'm a positive writer and when that doesn't work, I eat chocolate. I help fellow writers overcome doubt and thrive! In my free time, I love visiting castles with my wife, Joan. Join me on Twitter and Facebook.

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Like a good friend, Bryan guides you through the process of facing your inner demons, conquering the craft, and creating work that matters. ―Jeff Goins

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  • Tarang Sinha

    Wow! Finally! Congratulations Troy 🙂

  • wamdiggity

    Congratulations Troy!! I enjoyed it immensely! It’s been hard for me to reach that place where I can find my voice among the roar of all the other voices, so this really hit home for me.

    • Thank you wamdiggity. It takes awhile to find your voice and I think we go through stages as well. But keep at it so your voice does roar over the others.

  • Krithika Rangarajan

    Congratulations Troy! Your evocative imagery has lent joy to my morning <3

  • luckykat

    I really, really, REALLY needed to read this. When I was still in school, I loved the writing process. I loved thinking and creating and coming up with horrible situations to put my characters in. But it was also extremely superficial, simple writing and a “friend” pointed that out to me years later in a not so nice manner. I didn’t realize it at the time, but after that, I began stressing out about plot and description and trying to turn my stories into something that would be novel material (always my ultimate goal). It became less about the fun and more about precision and skill. I realized all of this recently, and it’s no wonder that I’ve been questioning if I should be a writer – I allowed this “friend” to get in my head and take all the fun out of it.

    My point is that I went from someone who loved the act of writing to someone who hated it, but still loved the magic of writing. But it’s comforting to know that, that is okay too. I’m taking some time to reanalyze what I really love and where I can learn to relax and enjoy myself rather than worry about nitpicky things.

    • Thank you luckykat. I’m glad you were able to move in your journey from love to hate of writing to still loving the magic of writing. Once again thank you for such kind words.

  • Susan Mary Malone

    As another who is “in love with the magic of words,” I salute you, Troy! Congratulations!

  • Congratulations, Troy! Totally agree with you about the value of using our words. To encourage others. Great job.

    • Thank you Anne. You’ve been such an encouragement to me not only in writing but life.

  • NancyHVest

    The magic of words and how they can transform others…yep, that’s what’s it all about. Congrats, Troy! (I show up as nhvwriter, but I am Nancy Heiser Vest on Tribewriters, etc.)

  • Bryan thanks so much. Your writing and website are a great resource. Thanks for carrying the beacon of positivity and encouragement to us as writers. This has been a great encouragement to me. Thank you for allowing me to share my words on your site. Winning was a serendipity.

    • Thank YOU, Troy! Great work. This post will help many, I am sure.

      • To you as well Bryan. Thanks for not only the opportunity, but also your willingness to share others work.

  • Congratulations, Troy! As much as I wanted myself or my daughter to win, I do believe the right winner was chosen as you spoke for all of us. I especially liked your sentence, “How they can paint when there’s no paint.” Well said.

    • Thank you Linda. I never wrote this for the contest. I wrote it for others, and I wrote it for me. I just was fortunate to have Bryan’s contest as a great landing place for the post. I’m glad you liked it.

  • Tammy Sue Willey

    Congratulations, Troy!

    “The critic, and the guy inside my head know how to poke and prod every bruise and every wound inflicted on the journey. They seem to miss the trail I’ve made. They just point out the limbs I didn’t cut; the dude with his words of discouragement and the critic pointing out all my grammar mistakes.”

    This is sooooo true! Great description of the internal battle. Thank you.

  • Great piece Tony and congrats! Got to love the inner dialogues. I think you nailed it, it’s about finding your why. As I struggle to sit down to write, to bleed, I look to other people’s why. Like everything else in life, looking outside of ourselves leaves us empty handed. I need to look inward. What’s my why. I know what it is, I have one, it’s just I put it on the back burner because, the other “writers” use this as their why. Thanks so much for this gentle, scratch that, aggressive nudge to write down my why and look at it every time I sit down to write. Thanks Tony!

    • Thanks Eric. I’m glad you were able to stick to your why because no one else writes for you (unless you use a ghost writer). But most of us don’t. Keep writing Eric.

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  • Congrats to all. I don’t know what dates these posts are, hope my congrats are “timely.” They are sincere anyway.