By Elouwdi Smit
The first piece of advice I received about writing was to have fun! Don’t be serious – just enjoy it.
I will never forget the day I received feedback on my radio drama play that placed me in the top 5 in a local competition. The giddiness, pride and plain old happiness lasted for an entire week. It didn’t matter to me that I did not win the competition. It was the fact my work had made it this far, in a genre and style I had never written in before.
Due to my success in this competition, I set out to enter every short story competition the web had to offer – this was my time to rise above all others! I’d spend hours writing, forcing any story onto the pages, whether I believed in the story or not. It came to a point where I’d submit two to three short stories a day, investing quite a bit into all those entry fees.
I would spend each hour checking my emails, social media or their websites, waiting in anticipation for the results of the competitions. When the realisation hit that I didn’t make the longlists of candidates, disappointment and downright mistrust in my own abilities settled deep in myself. I refused to write again, sure that my stories were not original, horribly written and simply a waste of my time.
Though I had sworn not to write again, I couldn’t help noticing calls for short stories or writers. Before I could stop myself or remind myself of my promise, I’d find myself reading the brief and checking on the submission dates. I began giving myself anxiety, trying so hard to think of a story, any story!
The pressure became so intense I broke down into tears and was in an infinite circle of ‘I can’t do this’ and ‘I have to do that.’
I was not enjoying putting pen to paper anymore. I began casting the entire process in a negative light, procrastinating more, wishing everything were easier.
I realised then that writing is not about the number of competitions or prizes you can win. The moment you try to monetize your writing, you see it as a job and not as a passion. When you don’t have passion for what you do, you struggle to do the simplest of things – even finding a topic for a short flash fiction story of a hundred words.
I had to dig deep to understand why I wanted to be a writer. Writing, to me, had always been an escape from the real world: writing my own world with its own story. Complete relaxation had always been my state of mind whenever I’d drafted a novel or poetry. I had always done well when I allowed myself to enjoy the process, relax and escape. With this change and mindset, I managed to publish a poem, even though poetry is not my strong suit.
My advice to you? Always work toward nurturing and building your natural talent and be open to critiques on any platform. Challenge yourself in going outside your comfort zone, trying your hand at genres and styles you have not written in before. When you fail, try again.
Most importantly, remember why you began your journey in the first place. What was the spark that initiated your first short story or novel? What relevance and importance does writing bring to your life?
Anyone will lose passion if they don’t remember the reason for or purpose of what they are doing. With your passion back, you will enjoy every part of the process, regardless of what it may be.
About the Author
Elouwdi Smit is a 33-year-old mom and wife working as a senior business analyst in South Africa. Over the last two years, I’ve been able to publish a poem (‘A day in Africa’), and place in the top 5 of a radio drama competition.
I’ve pursued writing since a very young age, doing well in school in creative writing and even wrote my own drama plays for children’s theatre! My dream had been to pursue a degree in journalism but sadly, I was persuaded to rather study law. Needless to say, I failed due to no passion or interest whatsoever! My goal is to start up my own blog, study further into the field of creative writing and hopefully, one day, publish a novel or two!
Link to poetry : www.avbobpoetry.co.za/Poem/View?PoemID=84873
Links to radio drama: https://www.netwerk24.com/netwerk24/kunste/luisterdrama-kompetisie-die-wenner-is-20191208