This year I’m blogging my book De-Stress Your Writing Life. You can read it for free on Creativity’s Workshop every Friday.
Avoiding Self-Defeating Thoughts
Here are some more truisms about the writing life:
- Writers are usually their own harshest critics.
- Doing something courageous means facing a certain level of fear.
Because of these two things, writers can often become timid, frustrated and even overwhelmed by the stresses involved in creating their work and sending it out into the world.
Common thoughts among these writers are:
- I don’t have anything worth writing about.
- I’m never going to amount to anything.
- What if I can’t find an agent? Or a publisher? What if no one wants to read what I’ve written?
- What if people ridicule me?
These destructive thoughts roam through the writer’s mind, quashing any motivation and remaining unanswered by positive rebuttals.
A necessary step in creating a successful writing mindset is to capture these thoughts and deal with them.
Capturing Negative Thoughts
Negative thoughts can pass so quickly through our minds that we may not recognized they’ve even been there. Writing about our concerns and worries often coaxes those thoughts back to the surface so we can start to understand why we’re feeling stressed or negative.
Freewriting is a wonderful tool at the Independent Writer’s disposal. It involves setting yourself a specific period of time and writing without stopping until the time has elapsed. This method encourages your mind to continue putting out words, even if you consciously feel you have nothing more to say.
Writing a stream of consciousness (recording the thoughts as they pass through your mind) provides you with an opportunity to see what your mind is doing. You may see how one thought leads to another – how the simplest of negative comments can grow within your mind until you feel unworthy or unable to write.
Recording these thoughts then allows you to work through each negative point.
Refuting Negative Thoughts
In the next chapter we will cover some specific negative thoughts you may have about your writing and the methods you can use to refute them. In the meantime, start taking note of your common thinking patterns and look for logical responses that will help you bring an end to the chain of thoughts that are causing you stress in your writing life.
Add your comment below. What self-defeating thoughts have you faced as a writer?
Like most writers, I have to be frugal with my funds. So if you’ve enjoyed today’s post and would like to read more, I’d be grateful if you could leave a little in the kitty to help keep things afloat.
Everyone who donates will receive a free electronic copy of the book once it has reached completion.
Thanks for dropping by.
April 11, 2014 at 10:14 am
Its the aspect of being ridiculed (by creating a mock up of the story, in order to tear it down like a cat and mouse game) that drives me insane. Freedom of speech may protect them, but it also protects my right to free expression.
April 11, 2014 at 12:47 pm
Hi Sarah. Are you talking about being ridiculed by your own thoughts, or by the feedback of others?
April 12, 2014 at 11:11 pm
By the feedback of others, that convert later on into ridicule of the self.
April 13, 2014 at 11:31 am
You make a good point, Sarah. Often we internalize other people’s feedback to our writing. What starts as someone else’s opinion then works its way into our mind until we start repeating it in our own voice.
I really enjoyed this post by Hugh Howey where he mentions a quote by Michael J. Fox, “What people think about me is none of my business.”
Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but we don’t have to listen – we can choose to make it ‘none of our business.’
April 14, 2014 at 4:27 pm
Jessica I am learning to let it all go and just sit down and get to work, it is a learning curve for both my writing and my illustrations. The biggest fear happens when you are about to share something you have polished and shined for months…thats when all the thoughts come back.
April 15, 2014 at 8:48 am
I’m so pleased to hear you’re able to get yourself into a good mindset when writing and illustrating.
It’s natural for those thoughts to resurface when you’re about to send your work out into the world. Sharing your work is a different process to creating your work. The positive thoughts that helped you create will need to be adapted to apply to sharing.
It takes courage to let other people see your work, and not everyone will love it or even see it the same way you do. But there *will* be those people (call them your tribe, or your true fans) who will enjoy your work and want more. Those are the people you are seeking to share with. You can ignore the others.
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