It might come as no surprise that writers are the biggest self-defamers, ever! We will string together a grouping of words, think we are on a roll, to only select-all-delete a few seconds later.
Everything we write is shite! We aren’t as good as we think we are–not close to as good as we have to be! Our ideas are bigger than us–too big for a lazy, semi-illiterate, unintelligent, selfish-lout like us to tackle. Better strings of words have manifested themselves by accident in an over-bloated bowl of alphabet soup, for the love of prog!
Some of that might be an over-dramatization… but does any of it resonate?
Have you ever looked at the blank screen and just sighed, feeling momentarily (or perhaps not so momentarily) crippled?–like you just want to slam the laptop closed and go get another cup of coffee? (as if the third, fourth, seventeenth cup of Joe is going to be the magic pill to finally help you feel motivated to pound out your 2k today?)
Let it be stated that some peeps are just lazy, and I shame you! I shame you with the silencing, hissing shun of a thousand boos! I’ve met lazy writers. People who want to be authors but never read, don’t research their craft–these are hacks. These types are more in love with the idea of being a writer, rather than writing, crafting, or creating. And I apologize to you if this describes you, but this blog post isn’t for you.
Now, there exists a type of writer I know, (that I have been, and in my tiniest moments still am) that looks lazy in their neglect for their craft, but truly are not. This type isn’t a hack, they are just crippled with fear that they are.
These people are well read. These people are in love with writing, and reading, and everything surrounding the creative process. They often excel brilliantly in many areas of creativity–whether it be painting, baking, graphic design, crafts, martial arts, carpentry, gardening, acting, dancing–these peeps are just in love with bringing things into being.
These are the people I’ve beta read for and was happy to help because their stuff is so solid, poignant, and well-crafted. They are also intelligent, delightful, humble individuals that makes me so happy to know them.
I want to state, right here and now, if you are that author, I am so happy to exist in a universe that you also exist in!
However…these are also some of the laziest, self-doubting s.o.bs I’ve ever met.
So, let’s have a chat.
If you are the person I’m talking about–the guy/gal with great talent, who loves to create, to read, who knows the answer to everyone’s writing question on forums, but yet still stares blankly at the screen and runs from their own creative voice, in favor to instead indulge the voice at the back of their heads that tells them they aren’t good enough to be doing this–then I’m talking to you, my lovely!
So here’s the question: I already said your writing is brilliant. YOU ARE TALENTED. So why do you kick yourself in the teeth? Why do you minimize you?
When there are no other voices around booing you, why do you boo you?
I’ve spent a great deal of time working, discussing, and managing people with personality defects. (Spending so many years around writers, and training in martial arts, I’ve come accustom to swimming in a sea of them.) Some defects are harmless quirks, others are malignant. The harmless variety aren’t really my concern in this post, it is the destructive, or self-destructive personality and social defects we need to look at.
If you are staring at the screen, unable to finish your draft, let me guess a bit about some of the narration spinning through your head:
1- This scene/idea/character is too important, what if I mess it up?!
2- Insert famous author’s name already wrote a book like this, and he/she obviously did it better than I could.
3- I’m a fraud. I’m just pretending at this.
4- If people only knew what a bad writer/bad child/bad spouse/bad parent/bad person I am/was, they wouldn’t care to read me/interact with me.
5- I’m being selfish. I should be doing something more productive than spending 2/4 hours a day writing. Serving my spouse’s/my child’s/my mother’s needs are obviously more important than my little writing projects.
6- What if I’m not as good as I hope I am? Then this one great thing I love to do, that I always wanted for myself, will have been a failure. Everyone will see that I am a failure. I will lose my identity.
7- Maybe it is better to have never tried and always wonder if I would have failed, then try and leave no doubt that I would?
If any of these internal snippets of dialogue ring true, you aren’t alone. Very, many, great authors have had these thoughts. Fear of failure, loss of identify, impostor’s syndrome…these plague many creative types.
But, what if I said these voices in your head, keeping you from finishing that first draft (because it will never be perfect!) wasn’t even your voice. Sounds crazy?–the voice in your head isn’t even your own voice? I haven’t lost it, I’m serious.
Let’s examine for a second.
A show of hands: how many people reading this blog post, who identifies with the what I described above, has had…say…an alcoholic/addict parent ? A narcissistic or manipulative close family member when they were a child? An abusive loved one? A narcissistic spouse/boyfriend/girlfriend? Been brutalized by a sibling while indifferent/hurting parents were too busy dealing with their own brokenness in life to even truly care? Accept a parent’s/spouse’s/sibling’s version of reality/history/memories above trusting one’s own? As a child, have had to lock their own feelings, intuition, and desires away because they would only detract from mum’s/dad’s/brother’s/sister’s/who-eva’s feelings, intuition, and desires?
Were you ever taught that you are not valid?–your goal in life is to prop up and serve others wants at the expense of your own needs?
I had done a little research a bit back to only find that a striking amount of writers battle with depression, most stemming from a lot of what I discussed above. (Google it…or Bing that shit!; there is no shortage of studies linking depression and trauma with the creative fields.)
So I must ask, you to have a little self-awareness, and answer: who is that voice in your head that is saying that you will fail? Who is the voice in your head telling you that you are selfish to DARE to want to do something for yourself, like something as unimportant as writing? Because make no mistake, to be a successful writer you must write for yourself. No one is holding a gun to your head (at least I would hope not) demanding that you MUST write. If you are pounding that epic fantasy down, you are doing it because it gives you pleasure, meaning, a sense of peace….not anyone else. So who told you, long ago (or even right now) that you wanting anything that is just for you was unacceptable? Who told you that you are unacceptable and that your job in life is to cater to the psychopathic whims of far less intelligent, and far less emotionally stable beings?
Notice what I called them: far less intelligent, and far less emotionally stable beings. Honey, that is what they are. Your current or former asshole spouse/significant other minimizes your efforts because they are jealous of your talent. Your manipulative mother/father only minimizes your dreams because you being happy shines a light on how unhappy they are/have been. Your narcissistic sibling only minimizes your successes because they feel like failures, and can’t STAND that you are getting attention when they should be–don’t you know they are emotionally delicate and need that attention more than you do? You’re strong. You don’t need attention to be okay like them…but, honey, you deserve it. You don’t need it to be okay, but that doesn’t mean you aren’t worthy of validation.
You, my dear, self-doubting writer friend are stronger than them. Hell, you’ve had to put up with them all your life without cracking. Just watch what happens when they have to deal with people as demanding/mentally fucked up as themselves—drama, meltdowns, triangulation, gossip, backbiting, tantrums–they crack! You don’t! You shut your mouth, appease the crazies, and keep trucking on, ever dreaming of holding your published book in your hand–holding your little slice of personal identity in your hand.
And then, who’s in your head calling you a fraud, and a failure, and not talented? They are!–telling you that you are unworthy, and too unacceptable to ever have your own identity outside of them. They have programmed you, my dearest friend, to abuse yourself in their absence. They wanted you to work for their love, a love they delved out like water in a desert to keep you hooked on it. Your job was to seek their acceptance, thus making them feel important. They kept the truth from you: the truth being that you weren’t made to seek anyone’s love. You were made to be loved! I’m sorry, truly, that some one taught you differently, and now you are running around striving to be worthy of love and acceptance, and attracting more asshats into your life who make you work for the crumbs that fall from their table.
You are a good person! It is not your fault!
I repeat!–It is not your fault! …but, the unfair part is, you didn’t cause this, but only you can fix it. You need to reprogram what years of minimization and devaluation has programmed.
Now, the above is not every struggling writer’s issue, but if this resonates with you, consider: who’s voice is in your head, minimizing you when you stare at the page? Is it your own (you lazy-lout)? Or, is it your mind parroting the same tired untruths you’ve been told, or have been implied, to you since your formative years.
I’m telling you, if you can kick them out of your head, and understand fully that whatever you put on that page IS fine and worthy…you will feel free to write a shitty book. Because, in all earnestness, you’ve got to be okay with writing a shitty book to ever have any hopes of writing a good one. You have to feel free to embrace the suck. (but that topic is for another blog, probably.)
Below is an excellent video by Life Coach Lisa A. Romano on the issue of minimization in relationships. Take care!