Today I want to talk about the deeper motivations for decisions we make around our craft and career as writers. How fear and shame often play a role in decisions on how we practice our craft and navigate our career.
For instance, the person who doesn’t release their finished novel because they fear it will tank. Or the person who does no marketing whatsoever because they don’t know how to do it, so they conclude, “marketing doesn’t even work.”
Okay, let’s dig in.
What They Don’t Teach You
Over the years, I have noticed a growing number of things that I wasn’t taught in school. Hopefully some of these have changed, either in your personal experience, or in modern education in general. For example, in my personal experience:
Schools don’t teach entrepreneurship; how to take calculated risks to build a business around work that you find meaningful.
They don’t teach emotional literacy around money. They teach accounting and economics, but not how to deal with the psychological and emotional aspects of money. Instead, many people deal with money from either a fear-based mentality, remaining trapped in jobs they hate for decades, or they make decisions based on marketing alone. For example, a person might read an article about the new Apple Watch and how great the company is doing, so they buy Apple stock. In doing so, they feel they are indirectly benefitting from Apple’s success, therefore this is a sound financial investment. But that isn’t really how investing always works. It’s not just “buy whatever is successful at whatever price you can.” That isn’t investing; it’s a reaction that makes you feel good for a moment.
Schools don’t teach communication skills at a comprehensive level — skills such as debate, public speaking, interpersonal communication, negotiation, relationship management and so much else. These are life skills that are necessary in thousands of tiny moments every day, but training is typically only offered once in your educational journey, as a single elective.
They don’t teach how to recognize and cope with silent crises. Situations such as bullying, or how to recognize when a friend or colleague is suffering from some form of abuse –- be it emotional, physical, drug related, or something else. Because without knowing how to recognize when to help others, these situations are often ignored, lead to gossip, or isolate that person.
Again, I will note that this is my personal experience in education — yours may have been very different. I am aware that recognition of how to prevent and cope with bullying has (thankfully) become a very prominent topic in education recently.
Writing & Shame: Digging Deeper
How does all of this relate to writing? Like other areas of life, we often make decisions about our writing career based on surface-level excuses that mask deeper motivations.
We resist writing for deeper reasons.
“It just feels so selfish, I have a responsibility to my kids, and the house is a mess.”
We resist craft for deeper reasons.
“That teacher doesn’t know what she is talking about, all of my beta readers loved it.”