October 25, 2012

Do I Have What It Takes?

By Cate Russell-Cole

"This is an urgent public health warning for all writers. Over the last decade, we have witnessed the alarming spread of a highly contagious disease, which corrodes motivation, word count, editing, effective marketing and creative quality of life. This condition is known as petwrification.

Petwrification / Petwrified (verb) pet-wri-fi-cation

A psychological condition-affecting writers characterized by sudden horror, cognitive paralysis or emotional outbursts. It occurs when:
(1) Finding a mistake in previously published work
(2) Discovering a phrase or point of grammar used wrongly for years
(3) Suddenly becoming immobilized on a punctuation issue
(4) Receiving negative feedback or poor reviews
(5) When writers have compared themselves to other writers, concluding that they are comparatively deficient.

(Derived from the common word petrify and the Latin Petra, meaning rock.)"
We've all been there, right? Point two in the definition knocked me out for a time last week. I was questioning my ability to coach writers and author books when I wasn't up to standard. I had to accept my mistake and press on! You don't miraculously know everything the instant you become a writer. I don't want to know about that though. I want to be perfect to feel safe.

The creative process is one of growth: you start by making many mistakes and being influenced by all kinds of sources, then you mature. With maturity comes better quality of work; the realization that not every piece of advice is right; accepting that there will always be negative responses; and that mistakes are essential. They are what help us to master the written word.

As we gain confidence in ourselves, we become less and less petwrified. That enables us to take on challenges we once would have rejected as too daunting. To gain the upper hand against petwrification, we need to develop a strong mental immune system. You can do this by practicing your craft, staying away from the terminally judgmental, studying and being open to correction.

We need to place value on our ideas and our achievements. I started small, writing for publications that didn't pay and were very kind in their editing. It gave me that first shove forward I needed to find my feet. Now I teach, author books and do as much as I can to support other writers. We will always have days when we wonder if we really know what we're doing. Self-doubt is a part of the human condition. Those doubts will not win. I am determined! I love writing and I'm here long-term. I will work as hard as I have to, in order to keep maturing as a writer. I want to prove I have what it takes to be a success.
Cate Russell-Cole, is an experienced creativity teacher and author. She has been published in many local and Internet e-zines, magazines and newspapers; and has researched, written and taught her own courses since 1990. Her most successful course to date is “Write Your Life Story,” which has a thriving community on Facebook. You can check out Cate's books on her web site at  Her blog for writers is hosted at  Posts on writing skills, events and other resources are published twice weekly.

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