Friday, January 20, 2017

When Dark Thoughts Creep In

Writer's doubt.

It's real. It sucks. It can be overwhelming.

I've been reminded of this lately. Someone beginning her writing journey recently told me how she starts writing a story but has trouble finishing it. She worries it won't be any good. She worries the idea sucks. I told her that we all get it. The important thing is to keep writing.

I told her that I've hated my Pitch Wars manuscript at times and wanted to set it on fire. She was surprised since she'd read the manuscript and liked it. Of course if my worries were true, I wouldn't have gotten into Pitch Wars, but that doesn't stop the doubt monster.

Now that I've began writing a new project, the writer's doubt is right there, whispering in my ear.

So how do you write or edit your way through writer's doubt?

1. Give yourself permission to write a dumpster fire first draft.
First drafts are supposed to suck. They aren't supposed to be pretty or perfect. This is especially important for those of us who aren't plotters. Throw it all out there, the good, the bad, the crap. My mantra is, "Write now, edit later."

2. Talk to your writing support group.
It's so important to have these people. These can be other writers, beta readers, or critique partners. Hop on social media to connect with other writers (Twitter is great for this). Talk to anyone who understands because they have been there and can lift you up. Through their support, you'll be reminded that you can do it.

3. Sometimes you need a break.
A day off can do wonders. Don't listen to people who say a real writer writes everyday. Everyone needs a break or a vacation. Does any other job force employees to work every day without a break? Give your mind time to rest by watching some TV or reading, or anything else you enjoy. When you come back, you may find that you are ready to tackle the words.

4. Have a treat.
Sometimes something as simple as having a favourite beverage or a sweet treat can get you out of your funk. Be kind to yourself.

5. Make a deadline.
If you work better under pressure. Set a deadline for your work. Even a daily word count goal could help you get something down or set a number of pages to edit.

6. Look at your track record.
Even if you aren't published or don't have an agent, you have successes. Writing a novel or short story is a huge success in itself. Have you made it into any contests? Is there a scene you wrote that you love? Positive feedback you received? Grab onto any success or positive thought to keep you going.

Do you have any other ways to deal with writer's doubt? I'd love to hear them.

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