Reflecting on the “Seven Deadly Sins (and Writing)” Series

On The Writer’s Lens, I recently finished up a seven-episode series on the Seven Deadly Sins. You may (or may not) know them as Envy, Gluttony, Lust, Wrath, Greed, Sloth, and Pride.

And since I’m a writer, I covered how each of these famous vices pertains to writing. But I didn’t do it as a means to talk about how to avoid common grammar mistakes or haphazard editing. Rather, I wanted to cover how each of these sins can affect our mindset and our motivations. The entire exercise turned out to be a real punch in the gut. For the sake of transparency, here’s a few of the things I learned (and re-learned) from doing this series:

Nobody is immune to selfishness 

As much as we try to cultivate a selfless mindset, we are always going to feel that draw towards self preservation. It’s ingrained in our DNA. But that doesn’t mean we have to accept that and continue to indulge the impulse. Each of the Seven Deadly Sins exposes how human beings lean into their own well being before they consider another’s. And while our self preservation isn’t inherently a bad thing, it can certainly spiral out of control quickly if left unchecked.

Taking that into our creative pursuits, it can truly become a hindrance. Many times I’ve thought I had the right answer and found out later, I didn’t. Why? Because I was giving into Pride (I thought I didn’t need help); I was giving into Gluttony (I was in love with my own work); I was giving into Greed (money is no object, even to the point of bad spending) or I was giving into Envy (I wanted to be better than the next guy rather that looking at what I had to offer).

Being selfish gets all of us. Because it’s in all of us from the start.

Creative gifts are best used when they are used for others

Writing can be purely therapeutic. There’s no intent to share with anyone else. And that’s fine. But when it comes to writing for an audience, the connection we are trying to achieve shouldn’t be centered on personal gratification alone. Our message is meant to inspire, if not challenge, those who have yet to hear it.

Recently I had been feeling defeated in my creative journey. My podcast had been growing, but my writing and published work had slid. I was beginning to feel like I was not performing well due to a Sloth-like attitude. My Shadow of Mars project, for instance, has been repeatedly pushed back for creative reasons and honestly, from getting distracted too often.

But then something really amazing happened. Someone reached out to me with a note of encouragement that said what I was doing was inspiring. That was enough to put wind back in my sails – just what I needed to hear when my spirits were low.

What we produce matters. It matters to us, but it might matter even more to someone else.

No matter who you are, there is always someone doing it better (and faster too) 

Let’s say you’re good at shooting free throws. You do it in your backyard regularly and have been doing it for a long time. You make six out of 10. Or you sometimes make seven out of 10. So you think you’re pretty good. Then one day, another kid comes to play and as it turns out, he’s even better than you. He makes 10 out of 10 consistently. You’re miffed by the situation. Here you thought you were the best on the block, but looks like your perception was not reality. It’s enough to make someone want to quit. I’ll never be that good. I practice all the time and I can’t even make it 10 out of 10 times! 

Dreams begin and end with failure. If our spirits get crushed, then we might feel the impulse to turn tail and never try again. The fear of looking like a nobody makes us recoil into safer spaces.

But if we truly feel like we have something to offer, then we ought not give up. I’ve been self-publishing material since 2012. That’s seven years! And I’m still learning the best ways to get my message out there. Better and faster too. It’d be easy to bow my head and give up, but as I’ve seen my platform grow and my writing improve, I know that I’m still cultivating the best version of my message.

As for the ones around me that I used to Envy, I can turn away from that inclination and focus on what I’m doing instead.

Look at yourself for too long and you’ll lose sight of your vision

Every sin I covered had a common attribute: a propensity to turn inward.

Rarely do our visions come to fruition on their own. We need each other. Not just for the sake of having a robust audience that’ll follow our work and buy our artwork (that’s always nice!), but for the sake of building each other up; keeping us honest; and helping us bring our vision to completion.

When I first started writing books, I was completely on my own. Here’s the thing though: I thought that’s how it was done. Writers are supposed to be reclusive, self-made entrepreneurs. If anyone was going to help me, it would be an agent. Or a major publishing house. Not a community of like-minded thinkers.

My first two book launches taught me otherwise. Doing it on my own meant creative suicide. I needed a community of fellow writers and publishers. I needed editors. I needed a team to make things move forward. Even more so, I needed to be willing to invest in them as much as I wanted them to invest in me. By taking the pressure off of myself, the burden of creative success didn’t feel so daunting. But first, my Pride had to go – as it does for all of us.

 

Granted, these are only a few of the takeaways. I’m sure there are more. I’m sure there are some you could take from these insights as well. We all have our demons that we are fighting. It’s best not to feed our own if we can help it.

 

 

The Writer’s Lens – E52: A Writer’s Lust Is Not A Labor Of Love

This is number five of seven on the road to completing the “seven deadly sins” series here on The Writer’s Lens. And as such, I’m almost certain this week’s topic will entice people’s interest for probably the wrong reasons. Because this week’s sin is the sin of Lust; a state of being which incites thoughts of physical euphoria – not about the hindrance of writing pursuits.

However, I think I found a way to tie this one in. And though this won’t be an exercise in writing erotica or anything like that, it will be an exploration into what we can become infatuated by. Namely, our ideas, our processes, and our identity as writers.