Do you go through periods of self-doubt, fear, or insecurity when writing? Does the shaming voice of your inner critic cause you to want to give up writing altogether?
All writers, believe it or not, go though some form of fear or insecurity. Even the great ones.
Even after they’ve reached the coveted status of New York Times best-seller, some authors (if not all) continue to battle their inner critic. Here’s one example:
Not long after his novel Hold Tight debuted at #1 on the New York Times best-seller list, Harlan Coben was speaking to a crowd of suspense readers.
He was asked if, with all his success, he still felt insecure with any part of his writing. He laughed and admitted that’s the writer’s stock in trade.
Coben said he always gets to a point in a work-in-progress when he thinks, “This is terrible! I used to be so good. When did I lose it?”
“In fact, if you’re not insecure about your writing,” Coben says, “you’re either mailing in forgettable stuff or somebody else is writing for you. You will worry if you are a writer.”
– Rachel Scheller, Writer’s Digest
Your inner critic can have a paralyzing affect on your writing. So how do you silence him/her? Below are 5 key steps that will help you eliminate the noise and write with greater confidence:
1) When your inner critic says, “Who are you kidding? Who told you that you could write?”
Your response: I was given the gift of writing by God. My gift back to Him is using it. And I’m going to keep writing until I’ve told all the stories God has given me.
2) When your inner critic says, “Your writing doesn’t measure up to the successful authors like those on the New York Times best-seller list.”
Your response: Those authors weren’t always great. They didn’t pop out of their parent’s head fully grown, writing perfect prose and perfect dialogue. They started out just like I did. They became great writers by working hard and learning the craft.
Find out where your weakness might be in your writing. If you don’t know, find a good writers’ group that does critiques. With their feedback, you can address any problem. Editing is also critical.
3) Your inner critic says, “Nobody’s going to want to read your story.”
Your response: Sure they will. There’s an audience for every kind of story.
If the story is well-told, someone will want to read it. Write the story you want to tell, and the rest will take care of itself. Be authentic, be true to the story and the characters, and the reader will enjoy your story.
4) Your inner critic says, “Rejection sucks! Who needs it? You could be doing something more productive with your time other than being beat up like a perverbial punching bag.”
Your response: Rejection does suck! But it’s not going to stop me. I have a vision and a purpose.
The reality is rejection is par for the course for writers pursuing traditional publishing.
A number of great, well-published authors received numerous rejections for their work before they were eventually published, including Agatha Christie, John Grisham, Stephen King, and J.K. Rowling.
5) Your inner critic says, “Writing is too hard. Why don’t you just do yourself a favor and quit!”
Your response: Yes, writing is hard! But anything worth having is worth working hard to achieve.
There’s no doubt about it, writing is hard! Figuring out the plot, developing great characters, writing snappy dialogue, creating interesting back stories, getting your protagonist out of trouble once you’ve gotten her trapped. Whew! Yes, writing is hard!
In the book How to Write a Damn Good Mystery, (which is a great book on writing) the author, James N. Frey said, “You might be astonished to hear this, but most writers who finish a damn good mystery send out a few queries to agents and, when their work is turned down, put the manuscript in a drawer and never look at it again.
I have seen this happen hundreds of times. A talented writer has a damn good story written with damn good prose, but after one or two rejections, there it goes into the damn drawer. Makes me crazy.”
Don’t be that girl or guy. Don’t Quit!
Hey, drop me a line and let me know what your inner critic is saying to you.