Creative insecurity is normal! Encouraging kids should be too!


Driving my daughter to school this morning, she said to me, “I’d like to write a story about a wizard, Daddy, but I’m not good enough.”

I was aghast – horrified.

I’ve wanted to be a writer since before I was a teenager. I vividly remember various people showing complete disinterest in that goal, or being overly critical of what I had written, cutting it to shreds. Right through my already-shy and insecure teenage years I remember the embarrassment and the insecurity that I felt, and the certainty that my creative endeavours had no validity.

I never stopped writing down ideas, though. Many are lost to dusty or broken old floppy disk drives, but I have a document box full of notebooks and post-it notes and scraps of paper with ideas on them. I must have started a dozen and a half proper novels over the past forty years – maybe more. But I always ground to a halt, certain that I didn’t know HOW to write. Maybe so, but I could have learnt. Most of all I was just ashamed to show anyone, because I knew – by conditioning – that they would be ignored or criticised. I was, I suppose, protecting myself from getting more hurt. Like the meme says – half ego and half insecurity… upset the balance even slightly and the insecurity wins.

If you never create anything, no-one can ever tell you that your creation isn’t good enough.

I asked my daughter, “Who says you’re not good enough?”

“I don’t know,” she replied shyly.

I explained to her why I never seriously pursued writing. I explained that although I don’t allow myself to ‘regret’ anything per se, if I did have any regrets it would be not writing. If I had started writing seriously at her age I could have finished thirty or forty novels by now! Those novels will never get written now – time just won’t allow it.

I reminded her that we have nothing but support for her, and that we’ll always work with her to help her creatively. Then she told me about a scary short story she had written in school – and it sounds amazing, I got chills just hearing her synopsis!

She will get nothing but encouragement from us to pursue whatever creative endeavour she has a passion for. We’ll tell her the good aspects of what she has written and make constructive, encouraging suggestions where they could be improved. We’ll remind her that no writer ever gets it right on the first draft, and that anyone who tries to cut her down just doesn’t get it.

After all, if 99% of the world’s population hates what you do, that still leaves 76 MILLION people who will get it, and who might love it and maybe even buy it. I can live with those odds, how about you?

After having this conversation she stared out the window for a short while, then came up with a basic plot for her wizard story – just like that.

I can’t wait for her to start it.

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