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  • Cadence Mandybura

Find the Light in Your Writing

Hey there, writer. What are you working on?

Whatever it is, it’s probably imperfect.

Excuse my bluntness. But you know I’m right. Your poem, story, screenplay, novel, or essay—it isn’t perfect. And, unless the stars align just right, it’ll never be perfect, no matter how hard you work on it.

Don’t fret, though: I’m not here to demoralize you. Quite the opposite.

As we go forward into a new year, I want all the writers out there, including myself, to remember this:

Find the light in your writing.

There’s a time to review your work critically, face your weaknesses, and figure out how to improve. But most writers spend too much time amid bruising self-criticism. We don’t need reminders to be hard on ourselves.

So instead: find the light in your writing.

By “light,” I mean whatever it is in that piece of writing that enchants you. If you’re still drafting, it’s the beacon guiding you onward; if you’re finishing up a piece, it’s the radiance that makes the story worth reading.

Sift through old pieces, particularly stuff you’ve forgotten about entirely. Or set a timer and write something new. Look past the flaws. Where does your writing glow?

It could be almost anything.

Maybe it’s a character.

Maybe it’s a concept, theme, or image.

Maybe it’s one perfect sentence in an 8,000-word meander.

Or maybe it’s your bravery in writing at all.

You’ll know it when you find it. This is why you write. This is why you’ll continue to write.

Find the light in your writing.

Let’s pull away from your own writing for a second. Think of your favourite books, movies, or podcasts. Sophisticated or banal, “high” art or low—doesn’t matter, as long as you love them.

Are those works perfect? Almost certainly not. They might even have egregious faults.

But you love them anyway. Why?

Because something inside of them glows. Flaws can be forgiven in stories with hearts of fire.

Take the Harry Potter books, which commit their fair share of literary sins. But how much does that matter when stacked against the magical world Rowling created, and the characters people love (and love to hate)? Readers who cherish the wizarding world may be well aware of the books’ problems, but the light in those stories outshines any faults.

Here’s a personal example: I’m well aware that Minnow Beats Whale podcasts like Tanis and The Black Tapes have some storytelling issues—and yet I listen, and relisten, and re-relisten. I wince at the missteps, sure, but there’s a reason I keep coming back. For me, the imaginative core of those shows is beguiling, and the sound design is soothing and immersive. That’s enough of a light for me to follow.

On the flipside, have you ever encountered a work that seems perfectly constituted, yet still feels dead inside? Perfect structure, pacing, storyline, characters—but, for you, no light. These works earn your admiration, perhaps, but not your affection.

Find the light in your writing.

So back to you and your writing. Why does this matter?

Well, because writing matters to you. Right?

There’s something inside of you that made you want to be a writer. Whatever it is, that’s the light you’ll find within your writing… even if you have to chip through three layers of draft-quality prose to see it.

Find the light in your writing.

Your work doesn’t have to be perfect.

It just has to shine. 💚

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