Rachel’s Team Pick: Write Like A Motherf*cker

I am a lady who writes things, as you may have been aware. There are certain crippling insecurities and very real instances of self-loathing that come with being a writer and being a woman, and being both is HOO BOY  a real roller coaster ride. Frequently I try to tell myself that the emotional wear of this situation is “in my head” and “not important” and/or “not a real problem,” but then sometimes your friend sends you a link to an advice column from The Rumpus where a lady writes in asking how she can possibly overcome the difficulty of everyday living to be A Writer and the columnist is all YOU WRITE. LIKE A MOTHERFUCKER. I dunno maybe you should read it. FEELINGS. VALIDATION.

Q. I often explain to my mother my phobia that to be a writer/a woman/a woman writer means to suffer mercilessly and eventually collapse in a heap of “I could have been better than this.”

A. It’s not true that to be “a woman writer means to suffer mercilessly and eventually collapse in a heap of ‘I could have been better than this,’” nor is it true that a “unifying theme is many of their careers ended in suicide…” The unifying theme is resilience and faith. The unifying theme is being a warrior and a motherfucker. It is not fragility. It’s strength. It’s nerve. And “if your Nerve, deny you –,” as Emily Dickinson wrote, “go above your Nerve.”

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Originally from Boston, MA, Rachel now lives in the Midwest. Topics dear to her heart include bisexuality, The X-Files and tacos. Her favorite Ciara video is probably "Ride," but if you're only going to watch one, she recommends "Like A Boy." You can follow her on twitter and instagram.

Rachel has written 1142 articles for us.


  1. I re-read the answer for the fifth time and its impact still hasn’t faded. I’m 29 and like Sugar when she hit that age, i wake up many mornings sadly shocked at how i have not yet written THE book or shot THE film that would change the world.

    and everything she said is right, it’s a bit presumptuous to expect that you should be successful just cause you’re a certain age. and the only solution is to just start writing and keep writing. this Sugar is very wise.

    Thanks again for the link.

  2. I find my insecurities fade (mostly) away if I keep this in mind: I am writing, first and foremost, to make myself happy, to find that moment of fulfillment and perfection and this-is-what-I’m-meant-to-be-doing. I think it’s easy enough to get caught up in the tangled web of ‘making art and lit-tra-ture.’ I think the best things, the most honest and powerful things, come from when we just write for ourselves, for those we love. And then it becomes a little less scary, maybe, possibly, depending on your harshness as a critic (we are our own worst…). Then it becomes a passion and a calling.

  3. I love you Autostraddle.

    That was really beautiful and inspiring. I was reminded of a self-help book I started using a few years ago. It’s called “The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron. If you strip away all the cheesy self-help exercises, the core of her advice is to write. Get up in the morning and write three pages of whatever every day, but mostly she encourages stream of conscious. Then you can set it aside and get on with your day, leaving you time to try to make the rest of your day a healthier one. She examines the ideas artists have about ourselves that we’re somehow meant to suffer because to be an artist is to be an alcoholic or depressed or broke or all three at the same time. It literally saved my life a couple of times. It’s more therapy than advice on how to be a writer, but really it’s both. And it opened me up to other forms of expression and I went and bought myself some paint supplies and realized hey, I’m not bad at that either. Plus, she used to be married to Martin Scorsese. Her memoir is fascinating.

    I had given all of that up for a while. This inspired me to pick her book back up, so thanks!

  4. That hit me in the face like nothing has in a long time, and I am not a writer. I write, sometimes, but I am not a Writer.

  5. From “Bloody Ice Cream” by Bikini Kill:

    “The Sylvia Plath story is told to girls who write
    They want us to think that to be a girl poet means you have to die.
    Who is it that told me all girls who write must suicide?
    I’ve another good one for you, we are turning cursive letters into knives.”


    That last line has stayed with me since I first heard it. Keep writing like a motherf*cker, Rachel!


      as soon as i left the house i was like ugh i should have added those bikini kill lyrics b/c they’re so perfect and also were first shown to me by my eleventh grade english teacher who had really great hair and didn’t shave her legs. BUT THEN YOU DID IT INSTEAD. I LOVE YOU.

      • Bikini Kill has been essential lately – I think the song “RIP” from Reject All American covers exactly how I feel every time a new story about LGBT youth taking their lives:

        “But wait
        There’s another boy genius who’s f*cking gone
        I hope the food tastes better in heaven
        I know there’s lots of rad queer boys up there
        I hope every time they talk to you
        They know they’re lucky to be your friend

        Cuz look
        There’s another boy genius who’s f*cking gone
        And I wouldn’t be so fucking mad so f*cking
        Pissed off if it wasn’t so fucking wrong
        It’s all f*cking wrong
        It’s not fair, it’s not fair, it’s not fair”



        • Wow that’s what I get for typing too fast: a few expurgatory fails, and also I meant “…exactly how I feel *when I hear* …”.

          While I’m already commenting re:lyrics again, I thought I’d bring up something that I feel needs to be said: I think Team Dresch kept a lot of queer kids from killing themselves – I think there needs to be a revival. Spread that shit. I’m not going to even try to begin expressing the bazillions of feelings I have about TD, but seriously, who hasn’t listened to Musical Fanzine and felt like they just got kicked in the gut with “OMG THIS”??

          “Don’t kill yourself cause people can’t deal with your brilliance.
          Sometimes I can’t remember why I want to live.
          Then I think of all the freaks
          and I don’t want to miss this.”


          That’s not even bringing up “Don’t Try Suicide”…

  6. I HIGHLY recommend reading ALL of Sugar’s advice columns. She gives out the most true, beautiful advice I’ve ever read.

  7. you already write like a motherfucker, rachel. (i almost called you bitch ’cause it almost felt appropriate, instead i put it as a sidenote right here)

  8. thanks for this. I was a writer my whole life, long before I started performing (something I did have a strong interest in but never got to explore until fairly recently) and I’ve been struggling with people who hate that I both write and perform – or rather, they feel that if I want to write political things, I should just stick to writing and leave the performing alone, otherwise leave the writing and express everything through performance.

    But I need my avenues of creativity. I need the flexibility. Writing and discussion helps me make sense of what I want to say – which I can then transform into performance. But without the writing it’s all a big muddle of tangled thoughts and I wouldn’t know where to start.


  9. seriously, thank you for posting this link.
    i recently changed my major from pre-dentistry to creative writing…which was terrifying. i can totally relate to the “i could have been better than this”. the worst part was that i was actively choosing to pursue something that could end up with my head in a stove, or rocks in my pocket, wading into a river.
    let’s hope not.
    again, thanks.

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