One of the worst things I battle with is insecurities with my writing. I’m still rather new to this wild and wooly world so finding my footing has been tricky. One day I’ll think that I’m pretty good at this writing thing, the next I want to set my computer on fire and pretend I never wanted to be a writer at all. This happens a lot while I’m actually working on a manuscript. I am constantly bombarded with “those thoughts”.
You know “those thoughts”.
I believe they go something like this:
- “Oh God! Oh God! This is the worst first draft in the history of first drafts!”
- “Perhaps its time to give this up and become an accountant.”
- “This manuscript is a mess! I’m a mess! Everything is a mess!”
- “You’re not really a writer. And all those real writers know it.”
There are days when that little jerk in my head just won’t shut up. It’s like hearing that line from Carrie on a loop; “They’re all gonna laugh at you! They’re all gonna laugh at you!”. Soon I’m on my third bottle of wine and tearing my hair out over if I should use the Oxford comma or not.
Yes, sometimes that little jerk wins and I am stuck with one heck of a hang over the next morning. Then there are days when I find ways to battle her.
Over the years, I’ve collected different mantras and locked them in a brain file. When my little jerk starts in on her ranting and raving, I open that file and bombard her with positive words. Eventually that shuts her up and I can work.
Here are a few that have helped me during my battles:
- “She believed she could. So she did.” I actually wear this one on a charm around my neck. When I doubt myself, I look at it then realize that yes, I can. Because I want to. I believe I can.
- “Only you need to see your first draft.” This one pushed me over my biggest hurdle, perfectionism. We all know a first draft isn’t going to be amazing right out the gate. Like with any art, you have to mold it, craft it, and refine it into your vision. No one, not even your most beloved author will write a brilliant first draft. The best part? No one has to ever see it until you are ready to unleash it. Give yourself the freedom to suck.
- “Write drunk. Edit sober.” Alright, so I am making myself sound like a heavy drinker in this post but Hemingway was onto something. Be as wild and ridiculous as you want with your first draft. Have your hero get abducted by aliens! Use all the exclamation points! Typo the word the into teh! It doesn’t matter, just get it out on paper. You can fix it later.
- “The worst thing your write is better than the best thing you did not write.” Lets face it, everyone wants to be a writer but not everyone will be a writer. We are the ones who pushed through those obstacles and wrote. Whether you’re published, indie, or waiting to be published you did it. Be proud of your art. You were brave enough to create it.
We’re always going to battle that nagging voice on insecurity as long as we create. After all, we’re only human. What makes us writers? We fight though the securities and we write. Just write.
I welcome you to share your favorite mantras and methods on battling your own little jerk in the comments. Do you use mantras? Have inspirations that smash your insecurities? Are you the Zen master and can shut out that voice in your mind?
Please share your story!