As writers, being hard on ourselves comes as easy to us as new ideas for stories. (In fact, they’re usually a package deal.) We fall in love with our ideas, then tear ourselves apart when we fall short of the titan-sized expectations we have for them. We know our limitations intimately. Some are matters of skill, while others are just our own self-sabotaging mental blocks. They’re the coworkers we glare at while we’re working furiously toward keeping the company afloat and they’re in their cubicle, eating Cheetos, ignoring memos, and working just as hard to screw up the operation under the misguided impression that they’re “helping.”
The thing about being intimately aware of our limitations is that it can be our greatest hindrance or one of our greatest superpowers, depending on our perspective. It can either make us fold under the pressure, assuming we may as well give up if we aren’t as great as we wish to be, or it can push us to keep striving to become better at our craft. I’m a big fan of the latter, personally.
It’s not always that easy, though. Even superheroes have moments where they’ve taken a beating and start to question if they can really do what they’ve been called upon to do. That annoying question starts creeping up in your mind ─ is this even worth it? Am I really cut out for it if it’s this hard?
When you’re starting to feel like shit about yourself and your writing, here are some things to think about that not only make writing worth it, but make you a certified badass for doing it.
7 Reasons Being a Writer Makes You a Badass
- You are creating people, relationships, thoughts, words, and entire worlds from nothing. Something that didn’t previously exist is coming into being because of you. This is no small feat, so when things get hard, remember that you aren’t just whipping up some paint-by-numbers piece. What you’re doing is pretty damn cool, whether it turns out to be a masterpiece or not. The sheer fact that you are doing it is something to be proud of.
- Your writing has the ability to make people feel things. Whether it’s laughter and happiness or heartbreak and tears, you are attempting to reach into people’s hearts and touch them. That is the true power of storytelling.
- Similarly, you can make people think. You can help people learn things about themselves, other people, and the world as a whole. You can change people’s minds. You can help them understand the world better. Or, you can simply entertain them with an escape from their daily lives, which is just as important.
- You help the lonely feel less alone. Fictional characters have the ability to feel very real to us. They show us we aren’t alone in the world when we see ourselves reflected back at us through their actions, experiences, and personalities. Seeing these characters’ stories shows us that someone out there understands.
- You help people feel empathy and let them walk a mile in someone else’s shoes who lives a completely different life. Storytelling offers us ─ as both writers and readers ─ the unique opportunity to get an intimate glimpse into another person’s experience that we would never or have never personally found ourselves in. We get to see someone else’s private, uninhibited moments we wouldn’t normally get to see. This helps us grow beyond our own experiences into more well-rounded, empathetic human beings.
- You help people make sense of their own emotions and the human condition. How often have you walked away from a book, movie, television show, play, poetry reading, song, or any other piece of art and felt like you had learned something about yourself? Sometimes, whatever realization you have will be the intention of the creator, and sometimes what’s triggered in you will simply be a result of your unique interpretation of the story based on your own life experience. Whatever the case may be, these are powerful moments that you can offer people with your own creations.
- You make better sense of your own identity and experience. Writing and storytelling reveal so much to us about ourselves and what we are capable of. We get to explore different sides of ourselves through our characters, sides that otherwise may have laid dormant and restless. We get to learn about many random and wonderful things as we do research to make our stories more accurate. (We all know writers have the most bizarre and eclectic Google search histories.) We open up our minds to learning new things and our hearts to understanding other people’s plights on deep, atomic levels. We get to never stop being curious.
Being a writer is a beautiful privilege. It is a unique opportunity to live a thousand different lives and potentially touch just as many. (And even if you only ever touch one and that life is your own, you’ve left the world a little better than it was.) Cut yourself some slack when it gets hard. It’s not a statement on your abilities, it’s simply because writing is hard. For all the above reasons. But the things that make it hard are also the things that make it so fantastic. Badasses aren’t badasses because they do the easy shit.
(If you want to think of it in simpler, less existential terms, writing is just like those little bastard gummy treats that are sour then sweet.)
When the process of writing inevitably gets tough and you question whether it’s worth it to keep going, remind yourself of all these reasons why being a writer makes you a badass human being. And then, jump back into the trenches like a boss.