Writing

Dealing with Writer’s Doubt.

keyboard-621832_1280For the past few months, I have been doing a fair amount of soul-searching; family health issues have made me question my own mortality and goals in life. This is why last month I wrote about perfectionism and self-criticism; criticism that also comes from those around us, which can sadly include family members. Such criticism leads to you doubting your own abilities, which therefore sets you up for failure.

So, what can we do to fix these self-doubts when it comes to our writing? I have come up with these five ideas:-

1. Become part of a writing community: Being with other like-minded people helps you understand that you’re not alone and they can help you get out of that rut that you find yourself in. Such communication helps to cheer you up, which can motivate you to keep moving forward in your writing goals.

2. Find some beta readers: Finding the right group of beta readers can take time, so you need to be clear in what you want from them. Letting other people read your work helps you to work on your strengths and weaknesses, as well as developing that thick skin.

3. Work to deadlines: If you don’t work to deadlines, you will never get that work finished; having no deadline helps you to procrastinate. If you don’t have a deadline, create your own and make sure that you will be held accountable when meeting that deadline (eg. sending work out to beta readers).

4. Blog: There are many benefits to writing a blog, but the main reasons for new writers to blog are that it gets you writing, you are sharing your writing with the world, creating a community and learning to work to a deadline. You are learning to put yourself ‘out there’ and making a name for yourself which is beneficial for when you publish your other works.

5. Sending work out: This is the big one, but if you really want to get published, you need to bite the bullet and just do it. If you have the support of a writing community and beta readers, this will help ease the fear and after sending your first couple of pieces out, it becomes a habit. As the saying goes, there is nothing to fear but fear itself.

Writing is a pursuit that not only should be habit forming, but one that needs an awful lot of perseverance. It takes time to make any real progress with this writing venture, so you cannot afford to waste that time on self-doubts and listening to those who insist on placing those doubts in your head in the first place (and yes, I’m taking my own advice 😉 ).

Are you too hard on yourself? Have you spent too long believing in the negative opinions of others? What do you do to overcome your self-doubts? Do you believe life is too short to worry what other people think? Have you had a health scare that made you question your own mortality?

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This Writer's Life, Writing

Writing in Isolation.

alone atomic-bomb-966008_1280Firstly Happy New Year everyone! I hope you all have had a peaceful and well rested Christmas/New Year break.

Over the Christmas holidays, I’ve been reading The 7 Secrets of the Prolific: The Definitive Guide to Overcoming Procrastination, Perfectionism and Writer’s Block by Hillary Rettig. It came as a recommendation after reading Veronica Sicoe’s blog post Perfectionism is Murdering Your Muse (thank you Veronica 🙂 ). There was one particular chapter in the book that summed me up perfectly; that was a chapter on the ‘Trouble with Invisibility and Isolation’.

As a child, I grew up within a critical family, hence my desire to escape – be it through books, film or my own imaginative world. I had learned how to hide and now as an adult with children of my own, I continue to hide from the world. I find it difficult to tell anyone I’m a writer for fear of ridicule or sending my work out into the world, feeling that if I am rejected, it is proof that I’m not good enough as a writer and therefore a failure. The ridicule would therefore be justified. This leads to shame, then isolation and an awful lot of procrastination. It becomes an endless cycle.

In this situation it feels a bit like being the Tortoise in the Tortoise and the Hare. Sticking one’s head out every once in a while to see if the coast is clear before moving on. If anyone shows up, then back into our hole. I tend to apply this technique to both my writing and social media.

Perfectionists live with constant, excessive criticism, hence the continual need to procrastinate. I have been sitting on some of my work for years, going over them repeatedly, believing that they’re just not ready to send off. The reality is I’m just stalling, letting the fear and my internal bully control me. The negativity you have been fed for years automatically pops up in your head, constantly shouting down your need to progress and achieve something. It can become a daily struggle to overcome it and can even take many years. If anyone so much as praises me, I become embarrassed, highly sceptical and back into the hole I go; so strong is that internal bully.

The first step to ending the cycle is to acknowledge the problem and know that the internal bully is nothing but a liar. He wants you to fail and if you continue to procrastinate, he has succeeded in his goal. He becomes the winner and you have become the loser that he has always told you you are. Don’t give him that victory; you are the writer of your own destiny.

It has taken me many years and yes, progress has been slow, but I believe I am ready to make the next step. All I need do now is take that giant leap of faith.

Do you suffer from procrastination, perfectionism and/or isolation? What have you done to overcome it? What have you been reading over the Christmas break?

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