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De-Stress Your Writing Life – Fear of Being Called a Fraud and Fear of Losing Your Creative Edge

Title artwork for De-Stress Your Writing Life

This year I’m blogging my book De-Stress Your Writing Life. You can read it for free on Creativity’s Workshop every Friday. Today’s post is part of the chapter on Discovering Your Writing Fears and Barriers.

Fear of Being Called a Fraud

As you begin sending your work out into the world and receiving complements, you may find a different fear raising its head. You may begin to believe that your achievements have been down to luck – that you don’t really deserve the positive comments coming your way.

You believe that sooner or later people are going to discover you’re not actually as good a writer as they first thought. Then they’ll realize you were a fraud all along.

This fear may show up as:

  • Doubting the positive things people say about your work and magnifying the negatives comments.
  • Feeling extremely nervous and uncomfortable when someone pays you a complement or invites you to participate in an activity that highlights your skills (perhaps guest posting on their blog or speaking at a local library).
  • Double checking invitations and fan mail to make sure the person writing hasn’t got you confused with someone else.

It’s true that in order to hit it big in the writing industry, there is a certain element of chance involved. If you’re submitting your manuscript to publishers or agents, then acceptance may depend on the right person with the right tastes in the right mood picking up your manuscript. If you’re self-publishing, then finding readers can also come down to chance. Some books take off. Others don’t.

However, that kind of chance is linked to discoverability. Whether the right editor picks up your submission or not is largely out of your control. Whether your self-published novel takes off or not is mostly out of your hands too.

What is in your control is your writing ability. It’s true that as writers we’re always learning, but that fact shouldn’t diminish your achievements. The positive feedback and complements you received from your writing were earned while you were sitting in your chair working on your words. If you were the one putting the hours into your writing, then your work is not fraudulent.

The fear of being revealed as a fraud is common among people who do well at something – whether they’re actors, doctors, artists, teachers…you get the idea. You’re in good company, but there are things you can do to deal with this fear.

Here are some things you can try:

  • Make a list of your achievements. Note down even the small things, those little steps that got you to the point you are today.
  • Get your list out from time to time and add to it. Keep it handy so you can read through it when you feel this fear coming on.
  • Remind yourself that no one is perfect. You don’t have to reach perfection in order to be genuine. Don’t let a little mistake ruin your appreciation for what you’ve achieved.
  • Try to view yourself as others see you. Many other very talented people battle with this fear. It doesn’t diminish their achievements, so it shouldn’t diminish yours.
  • Talk to a writing coach, mentor or therapist about your troubles. Their words will hold more weight and their experience will allow them put the situation into perspective for you.

While you naturally don’t want your ego to get the better of you, self-esteem is very important for healthy living. Take the time to reassure yourself that your work and achievements are genuine. You deserve to feel good about what you’ve created.

Fear of Losing Your Creative Edge

We writers are very dependent on our creative ideas. Without those ideas, we’d be lost for words.

A brilliant idea can fire our imagination and lead to prolific writing output. However, even as we ride the wave of excitement with an inspiring idea, our fear may creep in telling us we’ll never be able to keep up such a level of creative production.

Sometimes the more prolific our production of ideas, the more we fear the moment when they stop appearing. We are told the muse is fickle and may disappear on a whim.

Therefore, we may wonder how we can protect ourselves from the loss of our creative edge.

This fear may cause you to:

  • Bounce from one creative project to another without knuckling down to finish anything for fear you’ll miss an idea.
  • Continually look ahead in your story, wondering how you’re going to fix a creative problem several chapters in the future while stalling on your current chapter.
  • Douse your creative highs with worry about where your ideas come from and how you can reproduce this success.

The solution to overcoming this fear is to:

  1. Understand how your creative mind works,
  2. Learn what you need to do in order to feed your creative process, and
  3. Trust that if you’ve done the first two steps then the ideas will flow as you need them.

In an upcoming chapter we will go into the creative process in more detail and show you a unique way to understand how your personal creativity works.

In the meantime, you can try some of these suggestions:

  • When you next get a good idea, make a note of what could have triggered it. What had you been reading? Had you been watching something on television? Did an interesting fact stick in your mind and then germinate into this idea? Did it come from a fascinating conversation with someone, or after a visit to a new place?
  • Look for patterns in your creative moments. Start learning how your mind words and what it needs to create ideas.
  • Keep an Idea Book to store the ideas you’re not currently able to use. This will give you a safety net for those times when the ideas don’t seem to be flowing as freely as you would like.
  • Don’t try to solve writing problems until you’re actually facing them on the page. You may know that you’ve got a plot twist looming in Chapter 7. But if you’re still writing Chapter 4, then try not to allow your mind to skip ahead. Often you will find solutions coming to you as you write. Keep moving forward and more than likely you’ll have an answer by the time you arrive at the problem.

Ideas are like gold to a writer, and you do need a steady stream of them in order to produce good work. But as you’ll see in a future chapter, the origins of your creative ideas aren’t as mysterious and unpredictable as you might think.

*****

Add your comment below. What’s on your list of writing achievements?

*****

My writing is my living, and I’m currently working under some tight deadlines for upcoming fiction projects, but I take time out of my week to publish this because I made a promise to you, my readers, that I would post here every Friday.

If you’ve found the above helpful, please either send the information on to a fellow writer you feel would benefit or leave a little donation in the kitty to help things along.

Everyone who donates will receive a free electronic copy of the book once it has reached completion.

Thanks for dropping by.

PayPal - The safer, easier way to pay online


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De-Stress Your Writing Life – Fear of Committing and Fear of Criticism

Title artwork for De-Stress Your Writing Life

This year I’m blogging my book De-Stress Your Writing Life. You can read it for free on Creativity’s Workshop every Friday. Today’s post is part of the chapter on Discovering Your Writing Fears and Barriers.

Fear of Committing

As soon as you decide what you’re going to write, you start narrowing down possibilities. If you set your story in Italy, then your main character can’t climb the Eiffel Tower. If you decide your story takes place in the 1980’s, then you character can’t pull out their smart phone to solve a problem in the third act.

Letting go of some of those possibilities can be difficult and at times the worry of what you might be missing can hamper your writing flow.

Fear of committing to the story may cause symptoms like:

  • Difficulties making story decisions.
  • Trying to include too many details, characters, places or plot points in your story.
  • Not wanting to start the story in case you can’t do it justice.

While it’s true that you have to let go of some possibilities as you create your story, the fact is that’s an integral part of any creative process. Imagine a sculptor not wanting to chip away at the marble in front of him because he doesn’t want to limit his options. The sculpture will never emerge if he never commits to actually chipping something away.

The advantage you have as a writer is that words are far more flexible than stone. The decision you make when you start a project can always be changed later on down the track. The key is to actually make a decision and get started.

You’ll find that as you commit to your decisions and narrow down your possibilities, your unique story will emerge. The more you limit your options, the stronger the story will become.

In order to do this, you can try:

  • Clearly describing the world you’re setting your story in. What location have you chosen? What year? Is it real life or fantasy?
  • Interviewing your main character and asking pointed questions. Find out where they were born, what their favourite movie is, how they feel about politics, why they dress the way they do. This specificity will give your character their unique voice.
  • Taking tangents in your drafting phase. If your interest is taking you in a different direction to where you expected, follow it. Allow yourself and your characters to go off on tangents every now and then to explore possibilities. You can always remove the chapters later, but you may find the exploration reveals something new and interesting.

Words are not stone. You can always go back and change things if you wish. But narrowing down your options and making clear writing decisions is very important to the creative process. So start chipping away and see what you discover.

Fear of Criticism

No one likes to be criticized, but as writers we need feedback in order to improve our writing skills and our stories. This is not always a pleasant experience and we may find our writing process slows, or perhaps stalls altogether, as the possibility of criticism looms.

The fear of criticism may cause you to:

  • Avoid finishing your stories.
  • Dread sending your stories to beta readers.
  • Take offense at suggestions people make about your writing.
  • Become depressed when presented with areas where your story could improve.
  • Procrastinate in sending out submissions.
  • Feel overwhelmed at the prospect of people reading your work.

It’s normal to feel sensitive when it comes to people’s opinions on your creations. After all, you’ve spent a lot of energy, time, and emotion in your writing and so you understandably feel attached to it.

An important part of overcoming this fear is understanding the difference between helpful feedback and destructive criticism. We’ll go into this in more detail in a later chapter, but here’s the simple definition.

Helpful feedback is when someone points out an area where your writing could improve and may also suggest ways you could go about making the changes.

Destructive criticism is where someone pokes holes your writing and makes derisive remarks about your abilities as a writer. It is not specific and it does not provide solutions.

At first, it may be difficult to distinguish between the two, especially when we’re feeling emotional. So when you receive someone’s response about your writing, try the following:

  • Read through their comments without passing judgment. Just take in the information they’ve given you.
  • Take time to mope if need be, but do not respond to the person. Your feelings may be hurt by some of the suggestions. Acknowledge the hurt, and even allow yourself some time to sulk if necessary, but set a deadline. Be it an hour, a day or a week, when your moping time is up then move on.
  • Read through the comments again, this time with an eye for what improves the story. You may even ask for a second opinion from an experienced writer or reader.
  • Note down any points that may be valid. Remember, you don’t have to make every change that’s been suggested. As the writer, you have final say on what happens, but at least spend a little time considering the point.
  • Disregard points that make direct and hurtful comments about you as a writer. Helpful feedback focuses on the words, not the writer.
  • If you notice someone continually provides unhelpful criticism, avoid asking them for feedback in the future. You don’t have to be a martyr to your writing. If you don’t enjoy someone’s feedback, find someone else you can work with.

Think of each round of feedback as an opportunity to polish your work and to learn as a writer. Remember, as a writer you’re always learning. Receiving feedback is a good way to keep that process going.

*****

Add your comment below. How do you deal with feedback or criticism?

*****

My writing is my living, and I’m currently working under some tight deadlines for upcoming fiction projects, but I take time out of my week to publish this because I made a promise to you, my readers, that I would post here every Friday.

If you’ve found the above helpful, please either send the information on to a fellow writer you feel would benefit or leave a little donation in the kitty to help things along.

Everyone who donates will receive a free electronic copy of the book once it has reached completion.

Thanks for dropping by.

PayPal - The safer, easier way to pay online


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De-Stress Your Writing Life – Fear of Failure and Fear of the ‘Writer Stigma’

Title artwork for De-Stress Your Writing Life

This year I’m blogging my book De-Stress Your Writing Life. You can read it for free on Creativity’s Workshop every Friday. Today’s post is part of the chapter on Discovering Your Writing Fears and Barriers.

Fear of Failure

None of us wants create something that doesn’t work, and so we naturally do all in our power to give our work its best chance at success. However, sometimes our attempts at avoiding failure can actually prevent us from making progress. In fact, at times our subconscious may believe that the best way to prevent failure is to prevent us from finishing.

The fear of failure can cause symptoms like:

  • Difficulty making progress in your novel.
  • Reluctance to try writing something new.
  • Procrastination or a slowing of progress as the end of the story approaches.
  • Becoming distracted by a new idea. (Yes, a plethora of ideas may actually indicate a hidden fear or barrier, e.g. fear of failure or a fear of completion.)
  • Continual rounds of minute edits in an attempt to get the manuscript just right.

We may find ourselves worrying about what others will think about our work, and at times become anxious wondering if we’ve actually accomplished what we set out to write.

In order to work past this fear, we need to come to terms with the following:

  • There is no such thing as perfect. Remember, aim for beauty, not perfection.
  • A missed typo isn’t the end of the world. Even the most polished books have tiny mistakes. Don’t sweat it. Do your best and then move on.
  • Stories are never really finished. There’s always something more you could tweak. Stop the endless revisions. Polish and then ship it. Send it out into the world and move on to the next thing.
  • The real failure is never attempting something. If you’ve given something a go, then you’ve achieved success. Even if it didn’t turn out as you expected, you were adventurous and you learned along the way.

Some writers view the fear of failure as a good thing, even a marker that they’re on the right track. If they aren’t facing the possibility of failure then their project isn’t unique and interesting enough.

Failure isn’t the terrible thing it first appears, it’s simply the moment you discover something didn’t turn out quite as you planned. That may be a temporary disappointment or it may be an opportunity to learn a new way of doing something.

Whatever the outcome, it isn’t fatal (at least not in writing). So embrace the possibility of failure and keep going. It means you’re trying something worth doing.

Fear of the Writer Stigma

Some writers do not like calling themselves ‘writers’ because they worry what other people will think. They dread questions people may ask them about their writing, and they worry about how people view writers.

This fear shows itself in various ways, like:

  • Refusal to use the term ‘writer’ when talking to others.
  • Embarrassment to admit you spend your free time writing.
  • Nervousness at gatherings where the topic of ‘What do you do for a living/hobby?’ may come up.

What you call yourself and your writing is up to you. Some writers prefer the term ‘author’ while others gravitate towards ‘storyteller.’

What’s most important is becoming relaxed and confident in yourself as a writer. Often our fear of what others think about us and our writing is actually a reflection of how we view ourselves and our writing. If we’re not comfortable being thought of as a writer others will pick up on that discomfort.

To overcome this fear, you could try the following:

  • Begin calling yourself a writer when no one is around. Create a sign or a poster saying, “I am a writer.” Put up on your door or next to your computer – somewhere you will see it regularly. Become comfortable telling yourself you’re a writer.
  • Make a list of the questions you’re afraid to answer. Your list may include questions like, “What have you had published?” and “What kind of things do you write?”
  • Think of answers to the problem questions. Consider how you could answer each question in a sentence or two. For example, “I’m working towards publication at the moment actually. I sent out a query letter just this week.”
  • Tell a stranger you are a writer. You may find telling a stranger is easier than telling a friend or family member. Next time you’re out shopping or at a party and a stranger asks you what you do, tell them you’re a writer. Notice their reaction. You might be pleasantly surprised.
  • Work your way up to telling a friend or family member. Remember, first you need to be comfortable identifying yourself as a writer. Feel confident and at ease with the word, then allow it to naturally flow into the conversation. Then note the reactions of those around you. They may be more at ease too.

Even if you still find people less than enthusiastic about your writing life, that’s okay. You don’t need their approval to enjoy your writing. You write because you love doing it, and that’s the sign of a real writer.

*****

Add your comment below. What questions do you dread hearing? When someone asks you an awkward writing-related question, how do you respond?

*****

Right now I’m extra busy preparing my e-book for publication, but I take time out of my week to publish this because I made a promise to you, my readers, that I would post here every Friday.

I’ve you’ve found the above helpful, please either send the information on to a fellow writer you feel would benefit or leave a little donation in the kitty to help things along.

Everyone who donates will receive a free electronic copy of the book once it has reached completion.

Thanks for dropping by.

PayPal - The safer, easier way to pay online


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De-Stress Your Writing Life – Fear of Starting and Fear of Getting Something Wrong

Title artwork for De-Stress Your Writing Life

This year I’m blogging my book De-Stress Your Writing Life. You can read it for free on Creativity’s Workshop every Friday. Today’s post is part of the chapter on Discovering Your Writing Fears and Barriers.

Working Through Your Fears

Your writing fears and barriers are caused by thoughts and influences that are unique to you, therefore the solutions to those problems will be unique to you.

So while this section may not touch on your exact problem, it will cover the most common fears writers face and consider some common solutions that you can tailor to your own needs.

Fear of Starting

This is often known as ‘white page fright.’ The symptoms are:

  • Difficulty sitting down to write. (This may subtly show itself in an extra clean and tidy house, or a sudden drive to do all those fiddly little jobs you’ve been putting off.)
  • Difficulty knowing where to start writing.
  • Constantly editing the first few lines of your writing to try and get them just right.

The cause of this fear is usually perfectionism.

It’s natural to want to do your best work and make your story shine, but before you can do any of that you need to get your words onto the page. For that to happen, you have to settle for whatever will come.

First drafts are usually messy. That’s their purpose. The tight sentences, smooth transitions and sharp plot turns often come later – either as you get yourself into the flow of writing or during the editing process.

Expecting your first words to be perfect puts unnecessary pressure on yourself – in fact, it is asking the impossible.

To help you overcome this fear, you might try:

  • Writing the beginning of your story on paper, perhaps using a pencil to remind yourself that these are just temporary words.
  • Crumpling the paper before you write so it doesn’t look too pristine to use.
  • Starting in the middle of your story, choosing to write a scene that particularly appeals to you.
  • Interviewing your main character to get to know them better. This may help you find their voice before you start.
  • Freewriting. Set yourself a timer and just start writing. It will force you to put words on the page.

Don’t go for perfect, just go for broke.

Fear of Getting Something Wrong

When writing fiction, there are many facts and figures that still need to connect with real life. Historical fiction and science-fiction especially require an attention to accuracy. This can all lead to a fear of getting something wrong.

Symptoms of this fear may be:

  • Excessive research. You may find yourself only writing a few lines before hopping on the internet to search for information.
  • Shying away from specifics in your story. Instead of describing details of your world, you use vague, all-encompassing expressions that may seem safer but don’t properly build your world.

A certain amount of information is important to creating a story that is plausible enough to suspending disbelief while still gripping the reader with intriguing twists. However, the danger lies in packing your story with so much extra detail that the characters and plot become lost in the extensive descriptions.

Making sure you have enough information without sinking too much of your valuable time into research is a balancing act that changes with each story you write. No matter what intriguing details you discover in your research, keep your focus on what is necessary to engage your reader.

To overcome this fear and successfully include the details necessary to your story, you might try some of these suggestions:

  • If your story will require lots of facts and figures, begin your research several months before you plan to begin writing your story. Perhaps start a folder or notebook to collect together the information you will need.
  • As you write your story, when you come to something that needs research simply leave yourself a note and keep writing. Come back later, after you’ve done your writing for the day or once you’ve finished your manuscript, and research the matter then.
  • Set yourself a time limit when researching.
  • Use resources that are reliable and accurate. Visiting your local library might be a wiser use of time than just researching on the internet.
  • Speak to someone who knows the subject well. You may find they can provide you details you couldn’t otherwise find. They may also be willing to become a beta reader for your project, helping you to catch inaccuracies.

Most importantly, don’t let the need for accuracy stop you writing. Remember your independent writer mindset – take action and ask for help if you need it.

*****

Add your comment below. How do you overcome your fear of perfection? Do you have any researching tips you can share?

*****

Right now I’m extra busy preparing my e-book for publication, but I take time out of my week to publish this because I made a promise to you, my readers, that I would post here every Friday.

I’ve you’ve found the above helpful, please either send the information on to a fellow writer you feel would benefit or leave a little donation in the kitty to help things along.

Everyone who donates will receive a free electronic copy of the book once it has reached completion.

Thanks for dropping by.

PayPal - The safer, easier way to pay online


8 Comments

De-Stress Your Writing Life – Discovering Your Writing Fears and Barriers

Title artwork for De-Stress Your Writing Life

This year I’m blogging my book De-Stress Your Writing Life. You can read it for free on Creativity’s Workshop every Friday.

So far we’ve considered how a successful writer:

Now let’s consider how a successful writer deals with the fears and barriers that will inevitably come in the writing life.

Defining Your Fear

While every writer will face some kind of fear in their writing life – be it the fear of failure, the fear of making mistakes, or the fear of what others will say about their writing – each writer is different.

The subject of writing fears and barriers deserves a book of its own, so we’ll only cover the topic briefly here. If you wish to read more on the subject, try The Writer’s Portable Therapist by Rachel Ballon, Ph.D.

Firstly, let’s define the two terms we’re using here:

  • Fear: In this book, when we refer to fear we’re usually talking about the worry or anxiety caused by perceived:
    • Difficulty,
    • Danger,
    • Potential for embarrassment, or
    • Potential for hurt or heart ache.
  • Barrier: A problem (perhaps caused by fear or a self-imposed limitation) that prevents you progressing with your writing project.

As we already mentioned, the fears and barriers that each writer faces will be unique to them. Our fears and barriers are influenced by our:

  • Upbringing,
  • Life experiences,
  • Beliefs (including the way we perceive the world), and
  • Habits.

What are your personal fears and barriers? You may already know, or you may need a little help to describe the feelings and thoughts you encounter on a regular basis.

Before you read further, jot down on a piece of paper the fears and barriers you feel you’re facing in your writing life.

If you’re not sure what to write, then try asking yourself the following questions:

  • What thoughts go through my head when I sit down to write?
  • Am I embarrassed to call myself a writer? If so, why?
  • What is the hardest part of writing for me personally?
  • What’s the worst thing someone could say to me about my writing?

Notice any reoccurring thoughts or words. Also notice how you feel as you write. Do your muscles tense up when you think about certain aspects of your writing? Do you feel your gut tightening when you approach certain situations?

You may be surprised at the things that concern you.

*****

Add your comment below. What fears are you facing in your writing life?

*****

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.

PayPal - The safer, easier way to pay online


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De-Stress Your Writing Life – The Independent Writer (Part 3)

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This year I’m blogging my book De-Stress Your Writing Life. You can read it for free on Creativity’s Workshop every Friday. You can read the first two parts of this chapter here and here.

Taking Control of Your Writing Life

The independent writer views their writing life as something they have control over.

  • If they don’t know enough information on the subject they are writing about, they will do some research.
  • If they have a weakness in their writing style, they will read writing books, take classes or do writing exercises to improve in that area.
  • If they are having trouble with a particular scene or writing project, they will turn to beta readers or an editor for further help.
  • If they aren’t able to learn a skill themselves, they will enlist the services of someone who can.

While this kind of writer understands that they have limitations, they do not allow these limitations to hold them back. They view the limitations as things to be compensated for, not as things that hinder them from reaching their goals.

They create a support structure of fellow writers, enthusiastic readers and other skilled people whom they can call on to fill specific roles in their writing journey.

Take a few minutes to consider the support structure you currently have in place. A good support structure may include:

  • A writing mentor – A more experienced writer who is able to guide you to improve in your writing and remind you of the progress you have made.
  • An editor – This may be a professional editor, or simply an eagle-eyed friend who is able to pick up on your mistakes.
  • Beta readers – People who are willing to read your writing and offer feedback. Ideally they should match your target audience. (We will look at more about target audiences later.)
  • Fellow Writers – These may be found in writing groups or online. They can offer sympathy, encouragement and advice.

Each of these support people plays a different role and fills an important need in your writing life. There are plenty of people out there who are willing to help you with areas you may be struggling with, so reach out and begin building your support structure.

Writing For Beauty, Not Perfection

An independent writer does not aim for perfection. They realize perfection is unattainable. Instead, they aim for beauty – a symmetry, trueness, depth or hue to their writing that is both faithful to their writing voice and appealing to their target audience.

This mindset is not only helpful when approaching the blank page, but also when making writing decisions.

There are many decisions involved in the writing life, from choice of genre to the placement of commas. The independent writer not only understands that they are responsible for making these decisions, but realizes that for many of these decisions there is no black and white answer.

They will work through their options for each decision and choose what they feel is best for the story.

We will continue to refer back to the phrase ‘writing for beauty, not perfection’ throughout this book to encourage you to be more relaxed and creative in your writing. 

Process Oriented Rather that Product Oriented

While writers usually work towards producing an end result – a book, a poem or simply the perfect paragraph – independent writers separate themselves from their writing.

They are a writer: They produce. Their writing is the production.

While they may be very enamored with the end product, they spend most of their time focused on the act of producing – the writing, research and editing that goes into that product and all that follow – instead of becoming bogged down in a single work.

Being process oriented rather than product oriented helps the writer:

  • Evaluate their writing,
  • Make needed adjustments to their work in progress,
  • Cope with feedback and criticism, and
  • Move on from a completed project to start afresh on a new work.

It also helps a writer adjust to changes life may throw at them. For example, perhaps due to a change in work schedule and increased deadline pressure a writer may temporarily be unable to work on his novel. Instead of focusing on what his is no longer able to do (product oriented) the writer can choose to move his focus to journaling or writing short stories for a few months (process oriented).

We will return to this concept later on in this book, as it is very helpful for coping with some of the stressors integral to the writing life.
*****

Add your comment below. What support structure do you have in place for your writing life?

*****

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.

PayPal - The safer, easier way to pay online


8 Comments

De-Stress Your Writing Life – The Independent Writer (Part 2)

Title artwork for De-Stress Your Writing Life

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.

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De-Stress Your Writing Life – The Independent Writer (Part 1)

Title artwork for De-Stress Your Writing Life

This year I’m blogging my book De-Stress Your Writing Life. You can read it for free on Creativity’s Workshop every Friday.

So now our understanding of what is involved in being a writer and how that role affects your life is growing. We are starting to see the writing life as a journey – an adventure full of enjoyment and discovery.

A writer is an explorer – both of the world around them and of their own inner workings. A key part of being this adventurous explorer is an independent mindset.

When using the term ‘independent,’ I’m not talking about writers who self-publish (sometimes known as indie writers/publishers) – I’m talking about writers in general.

By using the term ‘independent,’ I am describing a writer who takes her writing life into her own hands – a self-reliant and perhaps relatively self-sufficient person who is able to make consistent progress towards her goals. A true explorer.

Successful writers are self-motivated – they set goals and work towards them until they reach the finish. How do they create that mindset? Let’s look a little deeper.

Finding the Right Fit for You

First, here’s an important truth: Being a writer will mean different things to different people.

  • Some people will feel that the writing life involves large word counts and many published works.
  • Others will feel that their writing life involves carefully crafting each project they work on, no matter how long each takes.

Living life as a writer starts with you understanding what kind of a writer you are.

Each writer is unique – that includes you. While there will be times when you’ll want to pick up tips and tricks from your favourite writers, the most important writer to understand and imitate is you.

As you read through these chapters, there will be points that resonate with you – that jump out and say, “This is just what you need!” – and there will be others that might not sit quite right with you.

Approach each point as a suggestion, one you can experiment with and incorporate into your habits if you wish. But in the process, be aware of the impact each little change has on you.

Notice the following and ask yourself these questions:

  • Habits – Does this piece of advice help me write regularly? Does it encourage me to move forward on my projects?
  • Mindset – Does this change make me feel positive, or is it bringing up worries and stresses that are having a negative effect on me?
  • Output – Am I writing more because of this change? Is my work improving? Or am I sacrificing my voice in an attempt to measure up to someone else’s ideals?

Being a writer means first understanding yourself.

While there is plenty of good advice in writing blogs and writing books, your writing gut is also capable of giving advice. Just because a particularly prolific author writes his best work at 7am, or a well-known creative writer outlines her entire novel before she starts drafting, does not mean the same will hold true for you.

An independent writer understands how her writing process works, and is able to maintain the habits and rhythms that bring about that process.

She keeps track of the writing advice that improves her writing process, and disregards suggestions that don’t work for her.

If something goes wrong with her writing process, the independent writer is able to deconstruct her writing life to pinpoint the problem and change whatever needs to be altering in order to restore writing equilibrium.

This takes confidence, self-belief and attention, but it is an essential element of being an independent writer.

*****

Add your comment below. What writing advice works for you? What writing advice doesn’t work for you?

*****

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.

PayPal - The safer, easier way to pay online


1 Comment

De-Stress Your Writing Life – When Life Creates Factors Beyond Your Control

Title artwork for De-Stress Your Writing Life

This year I’m blogging my book De-Stress Your Writing Life. You can read it for free on Creativity’s Workshop every Friday.

(I’ve been battling with a viral infection for the past six days so the post below was a subject close to my heart this week. I’m also guest posting over at Helping Writers Become Authors today on the subject Why You Should Walk Away From Your Writing. For the record, I wrote the guest post before I came down with the flu.)

Every writer must come to terms with the fact that there will be times when it is not possible to write due to factors beyond your control.

Factors Beyond Your Control

The complications of life vary from person to person. Here are a few examples of factors that may impact your writing life.

Illness

Be it the common cold or something far more serious, illness negatively impacts our lives and causes stress.

The rule of thumb usually is: If you’re too ill to work, you’re probably too ill to write. No amount of positive thinking can clear your mind of a head cold or lift the genuine fatigue of sickness. Your body requires energy to recover and heal.

Medication

Some forms of medication can have a negative impact on your creative skills.

Medication that causes drowsiness, nausea or brain fog will likely interfere with your ability to write. There is often little you can do about this, especially if the medication is essential for your health.

Grief

Dealing with intense emotions can leave you numb and exhausted.

Grief comes in many types, whether it’s due to the loss of a loved one, the loss of a relationship or even the loss of a potential future. Grieving is a process your body and mind needs to go through in order to heal and during that time you may find your ability to enjoy other activities is limited.

Children

Raising children impacts every part of your life – especially activities that require ‘me time.’

Being continually on call with a million little jobs to do means it can be very difficult (if not impossible) to focus your attention on a writing project long enough to make meaningful progress. It may even be necessary to put certain creative projects on hold until your family situation changes.

These are just a few examples of stressors many of us face. Your life may present you with other stressful challenges that are beyond your control – perhaps difficult living arrangements or a challenging job. But just because these factors impact your ability to write doesn’t mean you should just throw up our hands and give up on writing.

How to Cope

What can you do to cope with these influences in your writing life? Here are five suggestions.

Don’t ‘Should’ Yourself

‘Should’ can be a motivational word at times, but it can also be dangerously hurtful. Telling ourselves we ‘should be writing more’ or ‘shouldn’t be letting this affect us’ only serves to cause frustration. Just because one writer can pump out novels while caring for a house full of toddlers does not mean you ‘should’ be able to do just the same while caring for your three-year-old.

Rather that beating yourself up over what you can’t accomplish at the moment (because there will always be things you realistically can’t accomplish at this point in time), it’s far better to focus on what you feel like doing. If your body or mind doesn’t feel up to writing, then ask yourself, “What do I feel like doing?

When dealing with illness and grief, it’s often important to follow what your body is telling you. If your body needs to rest, then allow it time to heal so that you can return to writing in the future.

Redirect Your Energies

If you’re not able to write, could you perhaps spend your time feeding your Creativity with reading material and movies?

When I am too ill to leave the couch, I imagine myself as a caterpillar curled up in a cocoon. I transform myself with the books I read, the movies I watch and the ideas I toy with. When I can finally return to my desk, I am filled with fresh thoughts and vibrant new plans so I can plunge straight back into action.

Remember, ask yourself, “What do I feel like doing?” Follow the answer. Paint. Sew. Draw. Cook. Allow yourself the room to be creative through whatever method your body and mind sees fit.

Write ‘Inwards’ Instead of ‘Outwards’

The act of writing provides us with one of the best coping mechanisms – it allows us to disgorge our thoughts onto the page, leaving room in our heads to cope with the situation.

As writers, we often write ‘outwards’ in that we expect our words will at some point be read by others. That can impede our honesty with the page, especially if we’re suffering with grief or other strong emotions we may not want to share with others.

Writing ‘inwards’ – perhaps in a journal or in personal letters – allows the act of writing to nurture us and help our healing without having to worry about what other readers will think.

Record What You Have Accomplished

During periods of increased stress, we may not be able to meet our writing expectations. Our word count may drop. We may not be writing new words at all. Under those circumstances it’s very easy to become discouraged – believing we have accomplished nothing.

Instead of allowing your mind to dwell on the things you haven’t done, make a list of things you have accomplished no matter how small. In fact, make sure to especially list the small accomplishments.

Perhaps getting out of bed in the morning is an accomplishment. Note it down. Maybe reading a page from your favourite book is an accomplishment. Note it down. Finding an inspirational quote on Pinterest could be an accomplishment. Note it down!

Fill your list with the smallest accomplishments and then congratulate yourself on each one.

Look Forwards and Continually Re-Evaluate

Just because your current situation is having a negative impact on your writing life, doesn’t necessarily mean it will always be this way.

Many of the stressful factors beyond our control will change in time, even if we don’t expect them to. An illness may pass. A new opportunity may come along. Our body and mind may grow stronger. Children go to school or leave home.

Continue to ask yourself, “What do I feel like doing?” It will change from day to day. Keep asking.

*****

Add your comment below. How do you cope with stressors beyond your control?

*****

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.

PayPal - The safer, easier way to pay online


8 Comments

De-Stress Your Writing Life – Living Life as a Writer (Part 3)

Title artwork for De-Stress Your Writing Life

This year I’m blogging my book De-Stress Your Writing Life. You can read it for free on Creativity’s Workshop every Friday. You can read Part 1 of this chapter here, and Part 2 of this chapter here.

Writing Feeds Your Life

While your life feeds your writing, it can also be said that writing feeds your life – it gives back to you in so many ways.

For example, it can give you:

  • A feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction.
  • A creative outlet for the inspirations and frustrations of your life.
  • An imaginative (and often compassionate) perspective on the events you witness.

Many writers find themselves feeling happier and healthier when they’re able to maintain a regular writing schedule. It nourishes their creative side, even giving them extra energy and motivation.

You may experience similar benefits when you write, but you may not have realised the connection until now.

So take a minute to ask yourself these questions:

  • When I’m writing regularly, how do I feel for the rest of the day?
  • Conversely, when I’m not able to write for a few days, how does that affect my mood and motivation?

The answers may surprise you.

Knowing that you’re a writer, and that you’ll therefore need writing fodder, can also influence the life decisions you make.

Here’s an example.

Choosing the Adventurous Path

No matter whether you’re a world traveler or so ill you’re confined to bed, a writer chooses adventure.

What do I mean?

A writer is someone who is curious – who wants to make sense of the world with their words. They are always searching for a way to take what they experience and transfer it onto the page.

They look for answers to questions that have never been asked. They find information and interpret it in fresh and interesting ways.

They explore new places, whether those places are actual locations or simply recesses of the mind.

They are constantly on the lookout for something to capture their attention.

This drive encourages them to ask questions like ‘what if?’ and ‘why?’ in the hope of discovery.

This curiosity and adventurous spirit leads them on many journeys – some of which only a writer could travel.

Taking the Writer’s Journey

Making writing a part of your life changes the way you view your role as a writer.

The term ‘writer’ is no longer something you need to achieve or earn, be it with a published work or a five star review. Rather, it comes to describe an element of you as a person, in the same way as terms like ‘daughter,’ ‘optimist,’ or ‘mango-lover’ may describe you.

The act of writing initiates a journey that you will continue for the rest of your life. There is no fixed destination, simply the wonderful sights and surprises you will pass in your travels as you investigate each fork in the road.

Understanding the Possibilities of a Writer’s Life

As you can see, the life of a writer does not just involve sitting down to a page and writing. It infuses every part of your life with a curiosity and depth of understanding.

We’ve covered a lot in this chapter, and plenty of it is theory. If you only walk away with one point, let it be this:

Writing does not need to be a chore. It can, and should, be a joy.

Too often we are exposed to the clichéd idea of what a writer should be. It sounds something like this:

Writers are recluses, socially inept introverts (who can even turn into hermits if they are not monitored).

They ponder things deeply, making them boring party companions and even worse spouses. They earn little and spend most of their time battling with writer’s block. They drink unhealthy amounts of coffee and while away their afternoons on park benches.

When things go badly, they become melancholic, turn to alcohol and eventually end up mentally unbalanced or contemplating suicide.

But as we have seen in this chapter, the realities of a writer’s life should be far different. You may feel something like the following description is a better fit:

A writer is a person who embraces life – who seeks to experience it in all its colours, complexities and inconsistencies in order to capture it on paper. They absorb information through all their senses, and constantly search for fresh sources of inspiration.

They make wonderful party companions because they seek to understand other people’s points of view. They enrich the lives of those they are close to by earning people’s friendship and respect. They spend most of their time jotting down ideas and words – after which they reward themselves with chocolate and walks in the park.

When things go badly, they find fresh perspectives and turn negatives into positives. They are hardy people, who make the world a better place with their words.

Doesn’t that sound like a happy and healthy person?

The writing life should be enjoyed, not endured. You do not need to suffer for your art. You can delight in your life and allow your writing to take you to mysterious, incredible and inspiring locations – whether they be real or simply in your imagination.

Now, let’s continue working together to help you find joy in your writing.
*****

Add your comment below. How does writing feed your life? How would you describe your writing life?

*****

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.

PayPal - The safer, easier way to pay online