Let’s look at the first bad guy: Fear. On his own, Fear isn’t so bad. We need Fear to keep us from growing complacent, to push us to do better, and not settle for “close enough.” Fear keeps the adrenaline flowing. But Fear is the father of Doubt. Put them together and they turn into a nasty pair. Together they put us through no end of self-torture. They slow us down, make us second guess ourselves, or push us to pull away from taking the risky route of trying something new. And that’s just the start. Fear and Doubt are ringleaders. They call in a gang of other distastefuls and use their powers to keep us from writing.
Without understanding what these guys are up to, we might try to push through the wall that’s blocking us, only to earn a sore shoulder and a broken spirit.
So how can we deal with Fear and Doubt and the rest of the gang when they pounce? Unfortunately there’s no one, easy solution, no snap of the fingers and they’re gone. It takes recognition of what’s happening, a desire to change what’s happening, and then the strength to take action.
And the action we need to take? I’ve found the best way to avoid becoming a victim is to follow these steps:
1. Nurture a realistic perspective on your writing. Fanciful thoughts about our writing have a tendency to sweep us away. For example, my first draft will be gold, I should be earning good money by now, the first novel I ever write is going to become a world famous bestseller. These unrealistic thoughts inevitably lead to giving the Fear Gang an invitation to come visit. Success and satisfaction through writing come through practice, hard work, time, and more writing with lots of frustration and joy along the way.
2. Be aware of your surroundings. Be on guard for the nasties lurking in the shadows so when they pounce—and they will pounce because that’s part of being a creative person—you can stand tall and defend yourself. In other words, know what’s “normal” in your writing life. You will experience ups and downs, moments of inspiration and times when ideas are sparse, but that’s okay. That’s normal for any writer so there’s no need to flail yourself over a perceived failure. Sometimes life will get in the way of writing, and that’s okay too. We write about life, even when we write about other worlds, so even those unavoidable distractions can be used to generate more ideas for writing.
3. Make eye contact. Remember the bad guys are cowards because they only attack when you’re at your weakest. So when you do get jumped, don’t react like a victim. Don’t think your writing career is over. Make eye contact and show you know who the attackers are and you aren’t afraid of them. Do this, and there’s less chance of getting backed into an inescapable corner.
4. Run for help. There’s no substitute for an understanding friend, or a supportive group who know exactly what you’re going through. There’s no reason to suffer or struggle alone. Speak up. We’ve all experienced it.
5. Keep writing. Even if you have five minutes for writing, even if you can only scratch out a single sentence. All writing is beneficial. None of it is wasted effort. Even the ugly stuff we’ll never show anyone. Just keep writing and don’t give up. Remember, you started on this journey for a reason. Don’t let the nasties stop you.
What are the things that stop you from writing? What do you do when you encounter a lack of inspiration or desire to write?
Lynda R Young