Self-compassion will make you a better writer: the how and why

In this post, I thought I would share with you some helpful thoughts on one of my favorite subjects. One every writer I know could show a little more of. What’s more, I won’t keep to the tree-hugging philosophy of “why can’t everyone just be NICE?” I’ll make it concrete. I’ll show you exactly why self-compassion will make you a better writer. And I’ll give you some tips on how you can bring self-compassion into your writing practice. 

Why self-compassion will make you a better writer

I don’t think people talk enough about how important self-compassion is, especially for creative people. If you follow me on social media, you’ll know by now that even though I am an editor, I think that in some stages of the process critique can be the death of creativity. It’s exactly like what people say about brainstorms. First, the ideas must flow and you cannot criticize your ideas. Because if you are too critical of your creative thoughts, you will teach yourself that trying something new makes you vulnerable. Makes you susceptible to negativity. So: brainstorm first, filter later. And I think the same is true for the creative process.

If you experience too many negative thoughts and ideas during the creation-focused periods of your writing process, your creativity will dry up. If you write 300 words and then feel bad that you didn’t write 500, your brain will learn that if you create, you’ll feel bad about it after. You will increase the pressure. You will punish your creative side. And you’ll make it harder and harder for yourself to produce quality work. And that is why self-compassion will make you a better writer.

Planning compassionately

If you want to bring self-compassion into your writing project, you’ll need to learn about your writer-self. (You can find more about that in this blog post.) Once you know a little bit more about how your writer-self operates, use that information to plan. Have you found that you work best in the mornings? Then plan to write in the morning. You’ll know that if you write in the afternoon you’ll be less effective. And that means that you set yourself up for fewer disappointments to start with. The same is true for your writing location. And your mindset. 


Now, the mindset thing is really quite important here. There will be days when you wake up with a scattered brain. And if you’re like me, that means you won’t be able to write flowy prose. But this might be the exact mindset you need to do research! So: you need to plan WITH your writer-self, rather than trying to force it.

The self-compassion factor

Be completely honest with yourself. Figure out what you need to write effectively. And accept that some days those elements will simply not be available to you. Accept that. Embrace it. And know that if you don’t force yourself today, tomorrow you might have everything you need to be twice as productive as you want to be. 

Cultivating a compassionate attitude

If you are ambitious, if you have set goals (which I totally recommend), you’ll be disappointed when you don’t reach them. You need to be hard on yourself if you want to motivate yourself. So how can you cultivate self-compassion here? I believe it’s a question of balance. 


Of course, it’s absolutely understandable if you’re upset with yourself for not reaching the word-goal you set for yourself today. But you can use self-compassion here to turn it into a learning moment. Don’t just be angry with yourself, ask yourself why this happened. Why did you not reach your goal? Did you get distracted by the all-powerful internet? How did that happen? And how can you avoid this in the future? This is self-compassion, in the sense that you put your critical self in your writer-self’s shoes and try to understand the reasoning behind today’s actions. And it has the added benefit of helping you be more motivated and efficient in the future. The self-compassion here doesn’t counter-act your critical self who’s in charge of discipline and motivation. Rather: they learn to work together. 


A second way in which your self-compassion can help here is with celebration. No, you did not reach your writing goal. But didn’t you write that one beautiful sentence that will absolutely captivate your reader? Didn’t you sit down to write even though the world seems to crash and burn around you? And isn’t it true that you figured out a solution to a significant problem in your text, that will make it easier to write tomorrow? You do not need to simply ignore your disappointment. But you can balance it out with positivity. Be proud of yourself for the challenges you overcome. Congratulate yourself on the things you did do well. That way, you no longer punish your writer-self for being creative. You give yourself something to work for. And you’ll create the positive space you need to be a great writer.

The power of self-compassion

Why can’t everyone just be NICE?

Okay, sorry, I said I wouldn’t go there. 😉

Without self-compassion, you’ll risk blocking your creativity. By all means, be critical of yourself. But know there’s a time and place for it. Balance the criticism with positivity. Manage your writer-self like you would a much-loved child: with positive reinforcement as well as corrections. It will make you more creative and more productive. It will make you a better writer. 

Do you have specific ways in which you practice self-compassion in your creative projects? Let us know in the comments below. And if you could use some help figuring out how to make this work for you, you can schedule a free video meeting with me – your writing coach – here

Talk to you soon!

– Susanne