Patricia Wrede is a writer of witty YA fantasy and a blogger about the writing life. She specialises in sensible advice for the novice.
Her latest post is about the power of personal stories and dreams to shape our sense of what it is that we can do and achieve.
The stories we tell ourselves about ourselves and our dreams are enormously powerful – far more powerful than the stories that come from outside. And the longer we’ve been telling them, the more powerful they become. I know people who persevered through decades of outside discouragement and apparent failure because they told themselves the story that they were writers; because they had a powerful vision of themselves as someone-who-writes; because they told themselves that there were other people out there wanting to read the stories they wanted to write, the ones they couldn’t find on the current bookshelves or on TV.
Not all of them have been successful, even by their own definitions (which do not always include publication or making a living writing as measures of “success”). A lot of them have, though, and the jury’s still out on the rest of them. The ones who don’t try at all are guaranteed never to make it (whatever “making it” means to them).
You don’t have to believe you will be a success in order to write. You don’t even have to believe that you could be. You just have to believe that you, or someone like you, can sit down with a notebook or at a computer and make up stuff that somebody else might want to read; that you, or someone like you, can learn the craft part of writing and rewriting so as to make your stories more effective at doing whatever it is you want them to do until you’re satisfied with them; that even if there are only three other people in the entire world who will like the particular, peculiar fiction you have to tell, it’s worth your time and effort to put them down in pixels for them and for you; and that all this is something you want to put time and effort into doing.
What stories do I tell myself, I wonder. And what stories do I want to tell? Now that the postaday challenge has almost come to an end, I need a new daily endeavour. Exploring my stories could fill that gap.