3 Mindsets That Made Me a Better Writer

Note: I made a video version of this post too, if that’s more your style. You can find it by clicking here: 3 Mindsets That Made Me a Better Writer – Video Version

As I’m preparing to release my first book, I can’t help but feel both excited and inadequate at the same time. I am new to publishing, relatively new to poetry, and I’ve had to learn as I go. Every step along the way has involved new lessons, and I want to share some of those lessons with you. 

Lesson #1:  Learn to Take Your Writing Seriously (You can watch Rachel’s video here)

About six months ago, I watched a video series on writing that changed everything for me. It’s by my friend Rachel Starr Thomson, a wonderful non-fiction and fantasy writer. She made a short video series for aspiring writers, and I happened to find it at just the right time. The main message: writing is a gift from God, and if you want to be a writer, you need to take your writing seriously.

Until hearing that message, I dreamed of being a writer but felt too unsure to fully commit to it. I felt inadequate. The only training for being a writer under my belt was a few high school English classes that I took about seven years ago.

I had invested a lot of time into writing but still felt embarrassed about wanting to be a writer – I envisioned others thinking I was a hermit lost in an imaginary world if they found out how much I loved reading and writing. I was afraid of others judging me for my passion and thinking less of me. I was scared of failing, and I had such high standards for myself, but I felt that I would never be good enough to reach them.

I had to admit that I care a lot about writing, so I should start being intentional about it. Instead of only writing when  I had the time, I MADE purposeful time to write. Instead of “seeing where it went,” I made plans for where to take it. Instead of hoping I could finish a book, I set a deadline. And when people asked me what I was up to during the week, instead of just saying “work” I started to say, “work, and writing” because that’s the truth of it. I stopped hiding in my fear and started being honest.

Lesson #2: “Your First Book is Probably Going to Suck”

I heard this advice in another video which you can find here (I’ve been learning how to write better via youtube) and although it may seem harsh at first, in reality, it gave me the freedom to fail. It’s really, really hard not to be a perfectionist about what you are creating. Especially if you are creating independently – you get to decide when it’s done, what the final product looks like, etc. 

It used to take me hours to write a few paragraphs because I would obsess over every word and fine-tune it until it was perfect. I ended up with a few nice paragraphs, but no books. Barely even a blog post. If I was going to pursue a career of writing, this needed to change. I needed to have the freedom to fail.

When my husband and I were dating, He would ask to read some of my poems, and I would be very selective about what I would let him read. I was too embarrassed, and I thought they weren’t good enough. I told him he could read them when they were “better” or “closer to being finished.” Andrew respected that, but he also said, “You could keep revising forever. At some point, you need to decide that it’s done.” 

I knew that my first book was likely not going to be a best-seller. I knew my talents weren’t everything I wanted them to be yet. My knowledge about writing, poetry, and editing, and style was still not what I wanted it to be. But I also knew that I had the freedom to write a book to the best of my ability and to look back on it five years later and say, “Sure, that first book kind of sucked. But I poured my heart into it and I am proud of it.” And I am proud of it.

Goodbye perfectionism, hello having the freedom to fail.

Lesson #3: You Can’t Do Everything

After I’d done the work of writing my book, the task of marketing loomed before me. At first, I bought this lie that I had to become an Instagram celebrity to be a writer. For a very brief and miserable time, I tried to be active on all the social media, but realized that I hated it and that’s not how I’m going to build my career. Maybe that’s how it is normally done, but screw that. I hate Instagram. 

I decided that blogs and emails are what I will focus on to build my audience and connect with them. Sure, I have other social media too (I have IG, a website, and I even started a Youtube Channel) but those will only be tools that I use from time to time, I am not going to invest a ton of time into them. There are other ways to sell books than to be an Instagram celebrity. 

Maybe it’s bad marketing to not want to use Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok – maybe it will be harder for readers to find me, or maybe it will make me forgettable as an author. But I feel strongly about pushing back against the “Internet Celebrity” culture that we have created. The time spent trying to build an image online can be better invested in writing quality articles, books, and content. I’m a writer, not a photographer/digital curator. I will stay in my lane and do what I do best since I can’t do it all. 

Those are the three mindsets that have helped me to become a better writer. I think they apply to all areas of creativity as well!



You can watch a video version of this post here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iAkx9DBZE84


4 thoughts on “3 Mindsets That Made Me a Better Writer

  1. Oh yeah, you really can’t do everything indeed. I’ve gone on a social media craze and registered for every account, but quickly learned that I wouldn’t be able to keep up with all of them, so now I just stick to blogging and possibly Twitter. Thanks for this post!

  2. Hi Ruth,
    I just came across your book of poetry and I just wanted to share how much it has touched my heart! I can relate to so much of what you write so I just wanted to send you a little “Hi!” and encourage you to keep writing, keep sharing! I have been mulling over a couple books to write for the past few years now and this post has encouraged me to start putting my pen to paper, to start somewhere and see where God leads me from here. I completely share your feelings of wanting to push back on the “online celebrity” status, that has been a struggle of mine as well. To trust God that even if I do not have an online presence, especially in this day and age, God can use my writing. He can guide my book to those who need to hear the words He has given me to share. And even if that is only an audience of 10, it is worth it.
    Thanks for pushing yourself, I am blessed by your pouring out!

    1. Hi Lee-Anne! First off, I want to say – thank you so, so much for taking the time to write such kind words and specific encouragement. I am SO happy and honoured that you found my book and enjoyed it! Thank you for the encouragement, a little encouragement truly goes a long way for a writer:) I want to likewise encourage you to keep writing and working on those books that have been on your heart! Pour your energy into the projects/writing that you truly feel called to, otherwise you’ll burn out trying to do everything (I’ve been learning that the hard way I think!). Is there a blog or something where I can follow along with your own writing journey? I would love to read your books and your writings when you do put them into the world (even if that’s months or years from now!). God bless you, and let me know if I can do anything to support your writing in the future:)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s