The Best Writing Teacher You’ll Ever Have Is YOU!

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Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

It’s interesting how, as writers, we constantly seek outside feedback, acceptance, and validation for our creations. We want our words to be seen. We want to be seen. I totally get the desire; we pour hearts onto a page — a page intended to be read by eyeballs other than our own. Thus, it’s as if the feedback loop — writer to reader, reader back to writer — completes a cycle of expression.

Sometimes, however, pursuing the feedback loop leads to a seemingly never-ending cycle of craved validation. After all, it’s our art, it’s our talent, it’s our work, and, ultimately, words are our expression. It’s not to say we don’t need fresh eyeballs to ensure punctuation behaves or that a character’s actions are believable given the context of the setting we’ve crafted.

But, what if, through writing, you discovered something significant?

You are your own best writing teacher

What I will convey — based on my own writing and teaching philosophies and from working with thousands of hopeful writers — is that eyeballs, editors, and feedback are an entirely separate issue from the act of writing itself.

As I teach and preach, the process of writing is only for an audience of ONE — yourself. As an entirely separate matter, you can always choose to edit later, or share later, and that neither has anything to do with writing as a process.

Many people get stuck in the edit-as-you-go-sphere, stifling beautiful ideas, character development, or poetically driven prose for the sake of fretting over comma placement. Imagine, you’ve been given keys to a stunning Porsche to drive on the Autobahn, and as you take off and begin to feel that freedom of an open, unlimited highway, there’s a giant red stop sign two miles in.

Tap into your feelings of hope and possibility

My guess is that, if you’re like many of the people who come to work with me, you have a deeply rich and lovely aquifer of words, ideas, characters, and expression that are uniquely your own and beg to flow freely. You know these words are in you. You can feel them, taste them, and imagine them.

Yet you can’t hold them. They remain elusive — buried beneath layers of voices that drown out your own knowing and command of what words could be, whom they should be written for. In the end, you feel your words don’t measure up or mean anything of value. Whatever truth or imagination you were once excited to express, that initial inspired spark, got squelched. Enormous wet blankets of expectations, fears, and false ideals get tossed onto an already delicate flame.

But go back to the moment you knew. Go back to that feeling where excitement, imagination, creativity, and expression all intermingled in a hopeful way; where you felt that certainty about how all those elements were coalescing. Some words to describe the purity of that feeling might be desire, hope, dreams, inspiration, possibility, and freedom. In those moments, you are there in only the way you can know it.

I believe that something within us knows the words, ideas, and imagination it wants to birth. The words may defy logic, they may not “make sense.” The natural flow that is released in free creation may appear disjointed or outside of the realm of what we expected the story, character, or notion to become.

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Learn from your own words

In spite of logic, you may intuitively know that a main character should be wearing a yellow hat and Hawaiian shirt to his business meeting; or that the story about your aunt’s cackle ringing out during your uncle’s funeral should be included in your memoir; or that the clouds in your otherwise realistic drama should morph into balloon animals.

There’s so much to learn from how we follow our deep expression in real time as it unfolds. Our words are the brightest, most honest teachers we have, on another plane outside of external workshopping or writing circle banter. Where we flow in expression may show us, give us, or guide us to more creative outcomes. We may create something richer, more textured, and more honest when we allow the inner spaces to speak and we are actually present to hear them.

We may discover something new about a character, or may have a recollection about a beautiful memory that makes us feel loved or remembered, and maybe that’s what we needed to make room for. You find there’s a bigger, broader story unravelling across the page. I’m not insinuating that we shouldn’t seek external feedback or input, or that we can’t take careful time to edit later. Of course, the option always exists that whatever gets written never need be shared. The learning from what we’ve already created, professionally edited or not, shared or not, teaches us to be open to create writing that’s more alive, more connected, more true.

There’s much our words, processes, and discoveries can teach us about the craft of writing, character development, storylines, and even ensuring we include surprising, dazzling details. When we trust that our writing is an organic, alchemical form of expression and allow room to collaborate with our imagination, instead of conspiring with or against it, we have much to learn from our greatest creative teachers: ourselves.

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  1. This is a wonderful and very inspiring article! Thanks for writing it! It reminds me that I am often amazed at what comes out of me when I am writing, like there is another person living inside of me. Seems we are all indoctrinated into upholding some sort of societal standard in how we communicate our words, but it can be magical if we break through that boundary and connect with our real truth!!

  2. Thank you so much for this! I appreciate your honest and your truth! Thank you for encouraging us as we write in our process on this journey ahead!


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