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If A Voice Says You Can’t Write, Then By All Means, Write!

We set our own limits.

“If you hear a voice within you say “you cannot paint,” then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.” Vincent Van Gogh

If you hear a voice within you say “you cannot write,” then by all means write, and that voice will be silenced. If your critics and reviewers say you can’t write, then write some more.

Writers, much like artists develop their craft by engaging in it as much as possible. As writers, we learn by reading, book after book after book. We develop our craft by writing a little, and then writing a lot more.

For an artist, an image fills the mind and is brought into the open through the brush. For the writer, a collage of images, a kaleidoscope of characters, stories and adventures fill the mind, and come to life through words.

As writers, we use words the way an artist uses the brush. An artist gets better with practice, by painting as much as possible. A writer gets better the same way, by using words as much as possible.

What shall we do when the critics and reviewers say we can’t write? Write a lot more! We don’t write for their benefit, but for ours. We don’t write in the style or use the particular words that they’d like. We write based on the kaleidoscope in our mind.

Some of the greatest artists and writers were ridiculed for having no talent while they were alive, only to be revered and admired after death. Criticism and poverty were not enough to stop them.

So, are you going to let one, two or a dozen negative reviews stop you? Keep writing! Write what’s in your head and your heart. Read what others are writing, so you can increase your collection of words, and then go and write some more.

O.M. Kiam is a blogger for JenningsWire, a blogging community created by Annie Jennings.

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6 Responses to "If A Voice Says You Can’t Write, Then By All Means, Write!"

  1. Woelf Dietrich says:

    Good article, thanks. I still get that voice, but I’ve learned to write through it. Not sure if it will ever go away completely. What I do know, or rather, what I’ve discovered is, if I keep on writing, despite the voice, the clamoring in my head dies down to a whisper, and sometimes, when I’m really immersed in my story, I don’t even hear it. Neil Gaiman once told a fan that you need to keep writing, because if you do, if you commit yourself and remain steadfast in your determination to become a writer, you will.

    You will get better eventually, even if you suck now. Everyone has to start somewhere.

  2. Betty says:

    Often I hear, “know what your reader wants and write for them.” I’m glad to see a writer who writes “based on the kaleidoscope in our mind.”

    Best of luck with your book.

  3. O.M. Kiam says:


    You’ve hit the nail on the head. Everyone has to start someone, and you can only get better the more you do it. I’ve had the voice tell me other things I couldn’t do, and eventually it does go away. We just have to hang in there with writing and eventually it’ll be replaced with a another voice, saying “wow, you’re a writer”.

  4. O.M. Kiam says:

    Thank you Betty.

    Maybe at some point the kaleidoscope will go away and I’ll write what the readers want. For now, the colorful words swirling around in my head keep me so preoccupied that even hunger couldn’t stop them.

  5. Ron says:

    Amen! Trying to write for anyone but me also takes the fun out of writing. Great advice for anyone with a creative streak!

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