I’ll throw this out there: I am not a great writer.
Hell, I’m not even a good writer.
Nope. I’m an okay writer — at best. An aspiring yet nevertheless average, mostly mediocre, run-of-the-mill and middle-of-the-road sort of okay writer.
Don’t believe me?
Just look at a sampling of the feedback I’ve gotten on some of my works:
“Trying too hard to be too highbrow.”
“You just spent a paragraph describing something that I don’t even care about.”
“This is the most depressing thing I’ve ever read. Seriously. If you’re contemplating suicide, please let me know.”
“I don’t get why this is supposed to be funny.”
Yup. That is all real feedback I’ve gotten in the not-so-distant past.
And that’s all just from one guy.
…and he’s my friend.
But here’s the secret: I’m completely okay with being okay. Honest. And if you’re just an okay writer, you should be okay with admitting that you’re just okay as well.
Because when you really get down to it, being okay with the fact that you’re just okay can be pretty goddamn liberating.
Why It’s Okay to be Okay
Now before we go on any further, let’s get one thing straight: being okay with being an okay writer does not give you an excuse to stop trying. Nor does it give you a pass for poor grammar.
Let me make it even clearer: being okay with being okay is absolutely, positively not the same as thing as being content with yourself.
Nor does it mean being angry at yourself. Or disappointed, or overly pleased or frustrated or flabbergasted or whatever
On the contrary. It’s the exact opposite of all those emotions.
Being okay with being okay allows you to move away from the pitfalls that all those other emotions can bring. It helps you avoid the concrete illusion that you’re perfect and that you don’t need to change a thing — or worse, that you’re a terrible, awful, no good very bad writer and that you should quit writing immediately before you embarrass yourself or bring irreparable harm upon unsuspecting readers that are unfortunate enough to stumble upon your work.
When you admit that you’re an okay writer — and subsequently acknowledge that such an admission is in and of itself okay — you are casually and humbly acknowledging that you have room for improvement. That you know that you know that you have certain weakness or flaws that should be improved upon, but also that those weaknesses or flaws are completely normal, and that they can most likely be worked out.
And that is a very powerful frame of mind.
Because as a writer, you should never be content. You should never write anything in stone. You should always be looking for ways to improve your writing, for ways to refine your craft, to better provide a more comprehensible and illuminating translation of whatever’s floating around in your head and the paper or word processor or whatever it is you’re writing on.
Being okay with being okay and acknowledging you can do better allows you to take yourself a little less seriously. To have a little more fun with your writing. To take those chances that you may or may not completely and utterly screw up on.
It allows you to swing for the fences.
And if you miss big?