Keys to a Balanced Writing Diet

6:00 AM

"You're so pretty."

"You're so sweet."

"Man, you're such a good writer!"

"I love your ideas--you're so creative and inspiring!"

Don't comments like this just make your day? When someone says something, be it in a blog comment or in an email or message, I get all warm and fuzzy inside. The words lift me up into the clouds and make me feel as if I can do and be anything.

The power of words is extraordinary.

But while words are good and healthy and beneficial to us, they can also be dangerous. 

See, while compliments can lift us up, insults and criticism can bring us down. If we let the words of others have too much power over us, we surrender our peace and happiness to their will. It's easy to see the harm in harsh words, but we have to remember that whether it's a compliment or an insult, it's still one person's opinion. Ultimately, you need to decide what you think of your book. You need to decide if you're going to keep writing and why. Are you going to write because your little sister thinks it's the most amazing book ever? What happens when she finds a new favorite book? Or her best friend thinks your first chapter was just "okay"?

Feedback and praise from others is so great to take in. But it's kind of like sugar. It's sweet--but addictive. If you only eat sugar, you're going to get weak quickly. You need solid foods in your body. The protein of good craft books and blog posts, the vegetables of self discipline, and the grains of determination.



PROTEIN 

If you keep feeding yourself constructive criticism, you'll keep growing. One problem with just eating sugar is that while it tastes good, you don't grow. That's why constructive criticism is so valuable. It expands you as a writer, and helps you see both your strengths and your weaknesses.

The best kind of feedback is full of positive comments, and notes on weaker areas in your writing. Even though that doesn't feel like the most awesome feedback at the time, it is the healthiest for you. Everyone needs protein, even if they don't really like eating chicken or kale.


VEGGIES

Everyone needs their veggies. In writing life, you've got to write for more than just your readers. You've got to write for yourself. Because at the end of the day, it's you that has to do all the work. It's you that's left with your characters, it's you that has the stack of paper filled with your messy words, red pen waiting. You're the one that has to spend hours in front of a screen trying to find the right words.

At the end of the day, you're the one that writes the book. While sugar is a great treat--word wars and sharing snippets--sometimes you're not going to have access to those sweets. You won't be able to find a good snippet to share, and so you won't be able to flail much with your writer friends. You don't really have a good way to explain your book, so you just have to tell them theirs sounds amazing, and you'll tell them about yours someday.

At the end of the day, it's up to you.


GRAINS

Shove down the rice. You've got a book to write.

Determination is your fuel. Just like carbs give you energy to run that mile, determination will see you through those countless hours of work that your book requires of you.

Writing stamina is something that grows over time. But it's also something you can't get from anyone else. People can encourage you and help you along the way. They can give you boosts and spikes of energy, but the long endurance of the writing journey is up to you and you alone. If a certain writing friend were to stop messaging you, would you still write your book? If a dear friend you met through writing were to grow apart, would you drift from your novel also?

Grains are important. And grains are a lot of small things that pile into a big one.


DESERT 

Sugar is not a meal. It's a reward for having eaten (as we say in my family) a "happy plate". Once all the veggies and meats and grains are gone, you get to reward yourself by downing that delicious bowl of ice cream.

Struggling to edit your next chapter? Tell yourself that when you finish, you can look at the comments your critique partner sent over. Having trouble editing during the war? Tell yourself that if you meet your goal, you can tell your friend about that book idea you had the other day and can't stop thinking about.

Others can help you (we need their help!), but they cannot do the work for you. Writing can be encouraged and supported, but being a writer is up to you.


What are your small grains? What keeps you writing? What do you think of feedback?

<3

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17 comments

  1. I love this! It's true word's have a lot of power.

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    1. I know, right!? It's incredible what a few words can do :)

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  2. Great post, Hannah! You're so right--just because some things of the writerly world taste good, it doesn't mean we as writers can survive on them alone. I don't know what keeps me writing, but probably a mixture of myself and Jesus. I want to prove to myself that a writer is who I am, and I want to glorify and honor God and everything I do.


    ~Abilene

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    1. Yes, definitely! <3 Great way to put it!

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  3. This is a great post! I've never thought to compare food with writing... :D
    -Brooklyne

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    1. Lol it was kind of a spontaneous post :P But it made sense to my writer brain so here we are!

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  4. This is awesome! I love this blog. Means so much to me. Please keep posting encouraging and inspiring post.

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    1. Aw, this comment brought me such joy! I'm so glad you like this blog. It's been a while since I've posted, but I'm hoping to change that soon :)

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  5. I guess I need this to remind myself. Thanks for this dear!

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  6. Great post! I like how you compare writing with eating food.

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  7. Awesome post! Please share more of your thoughts.

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    1. Thank you so much! I appreciate your encouragement :)

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  8. Oh i love this post since I'm a fan of veggies.

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  9. Many health and nutrition experts want to raise the bar on eating veggies

    Check this out: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a6TeXO43Wio

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  10. Encourage the readers more! It helps a lot.Thanks.

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