In a narrow corner of my mind she waits, cast aside in chains, her judgement neither sought nor welcomed. I see her, oh how I see her: face gnarled, grotesque.
Her name? Self-doubt.
I defy any writer to deny the existence of their own dark angel, their own inner self who shouts loud and persistently that your work is crap, that you are a fool to even CONTEMPLATE publishing that tripe! What if the reviews are bad? Heaven forbid a reader doesn’t ‘get you,’ doesn’t get the character, their journey, the entire premise of your tale.
Think babies. Oh, how we proudly we show off our newborns. Now imagine that someone says your child is ugly! The anger and hurt that they can’t see the beauty that you see. Well, our stories and our story people are our babies. When we nurture them for months, investing our very souls, and finally give them a gentle nudge out into the world it’s with great trepidation, our minds littered with ‘what ifs.’ Rejection is a punch in the solar plexus after all, isn’t it?
Those fears stem from that evil little dark angel on your shoulder, or in that dusty corner of your subconscious. The same little shit that tries to infiltrate your family and friends who mean well with their whispered scorn and sympathetic tutting and mumblings of, ‘why don’t you concentrate on your real job? At least you tried.’
The dark angel will chip away at you until you believe that you’re delusional to ever think that you could be a writer.
The more that you listen to the wizened beast, the greater the chance that its prophecy will come into being. You see, your imagination will be cloaked in a fog of negativity until your words cannot see, cannot breathe, will never reach the page. Self-doubt scratches out the art that you should be creating. Self-doubt twists your words into a tight knot of over-worked, over-thought stilted paragraph after paragraph.
You can take control away from your self-doubt dark angel. Lock that negative voice away in a box. See the clouds part, the sun’s rays fall upon your face. Celebrate the fact that you have a gift to write. You have a voice that no-one else on this planet possesses. Go you!
- Don’t seek the opinion of people who you know to be negative. Stay true to your dreams and remember, YOUR dreams are no-one else’s. No other person is as vested in your story as you are. Don’t ask for their opinion, instead talk to another writer or a friend who believes in you, who will motivate you.
- Grow! There is a wealth of ‘how to’ books, writers’ groups and seminars. Eat up all of that free information like a starving man at a free wedding banquet. Plunder that buffet until your stomach groans.
- Writer’s block is you letting that dark angel back into your story world. Defeat it by skipping to another chapter, taking a walk, eating cake, parking your book for a day or two or putting an emotional piece of music on your iPod and letting it fan that fire back inside you.
- Accept that you are not perfect. There will be that one negative review that rocks your soul and reinforces your belief that you are the worst writer ever to have been spat onto this earth. Immediately re-read the good reviews that your work has received. Remind yourself that you can please some of the people some of the time, but never all of the people all of the time. Some people may be dealing with their own dark angel and your book might have been a trigger. You will receive praise. You will make an impact on someone’s day, life, future. Those moments are to be celebrated.
I so hope that this has been useful. What if it hasn’t? What if you judge me by this post and–