My mother has encouraged me in my writing ever since I first held a pencil in my hand. She’s always been very positive about my work, even when I was a moody child who believed she was only saying those things because she was my mom. When I went through an intense poetry-writing phase in middle school, the only person I showed any of my poetry was my mother.
Although she has never written poetry herself, my mother’s response to my writing helped me to see that I could express myself in powerful ways, and that the ideas and images of my poems could speak to other people in the way that I wanted them to. There were times that she found my work confusing or disturbing (such as the time I wrote a poem comparing a person eating maple syrup to a vampire drinking blood), but overall she was very supportive and helped me to begin to believe that writing was something I was good at.
I’ve also received encouragement to write from people that I’ve met at college. For the most part, my professors have been very supportive. My advisor has always had a high opinion of me and encouraged me to stretch myself through my courses. When I took my first class with her, she showed one of my papers to the class as an example of a strong essay. In addition to the support I’ve received from my professors, I’ve also had several of my poems accepted to my school’s literary magazine, which has built my confidence in my writing.
It seems that writers often face discouragement and rejection, so these instances of encouragement from others are especially valuable. As a writing tutor, I try to provide an encouraging atmosphere for the writers I work with. Sharing my mistakes and struggles is one way that I try to put writers at ease. It can be comforting to know that you are not the only person who has problems with a particular issue.
Encouragement plays such a large role in the life of a writer. How many of you have a story about an English teacher, a friend, or a family member who provided an encouraging word when you needed one? Now, I’d like to encourage you: pass it on! When you read a poem, short story, or blog post that you think has potential, let the writer know. If there’s an aspiring writer in your life, share your own journey. You might make a bigger difference than you think.