Have Faith in the Writing Process

  • Trust the force.
  • Trust the generative power of language.
  • Trust your ability to find out what you want to say and how to best say it for your intended audience.

Faith in the Writing Process refers to a quintessential attitude successful writers have about composing: that over time a phrase, a felt sense, a really rough draft can become rhetorically focused, elegant, and impactful. This faith requires a writer embrace a Growth Mindset and learn from Procedural (Tacit) Knowledge related to Composition Theory, Communication Studies, and Collaboration, Genre, Information Literacy, Invention and Revision, Mindset, Organization, Research, Rhetoric, Style and Editing.

One difference between successful writers and those who fail is that successful writers have faith in the creative process. In other words, even when they come close to despairing, they believe their rough drafts will become crystal clear—with effort. They believe they will develop an argument that synthesizes all of their reading. They believe that they will identify some innovative, creative interpretation. Buried deep in their rough drafts, they hope to find the seed of an elegant idea.

When Charles Darwin spent his early twenties and thirties writing obscure essays on barnacle taxonomies, he didn’t give up. He kept writing, thinking, working, and eventually he created an elegant theory that transformed society: Darwin’s Theory of Evolution.

Whenever you become discouraged about your writing or about your potential as a writer, remember that successful authors did not become competent overnight. In fact, for most people, learning to write well is a lifelong process, an apprenticeship.

Just about everyone has moments of despair and doubt about their writing. After countless hours and the feeling that your work has been futile, that you have not clearly expressed an important concept or relationship, you may feel the urge to give up, to abandon the project.

But you can’t give up. To be a successful writer (or really, to be a successful person) you need to emphasize believing. Especially in the beginning of a writing project, you need to set aside doubt, self-criticism, and despair. You need to emphasize the positive. After all, down the line, when your work is graded or critiqued by readers, you’ll have plenty of time for self-criticism and doubt.

Writing can be discouraging. After hours of effort, you can end up with a product that absolutely fails to express what you intended. Plus, the feedback and criticism of your boss, colleagues, classmates, and teachers can be depressing. When there is a large gap between what you said and what you meant to say, you can easily get down on yourself, telling yourself that you are not a good writer and that you will never be good at writing.


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