How to Silence Writing Demons! #AuthorToolboxBlogHop

Hey everyone, welcome to my Author Toolbox post for May!

This month I’m talking about (and to) the voices in my head, answering the question ‘What does your inner writer sound like?‘ and offering advice on how to silence Writing Demons.

Author Toolbox Silence Inner Writing Demons

During Camp Nanowrimo April I realised something. My inner writer is an ass-hole. If she posted our situation on Reddit in the AITA thread people would call her on it. Whenever I thought about my work in progress she’d torment me with thoughts such as:

‘Why are you bothering? This is terrible.’
‘You’ll never be good enough, you may as well watch Netflix all day.’
‘Why bother with your own version of Merlin when BBC’s Merlin was already so good?’
‘No one wants to read what you want to write.’

My inner voice sounded like Luci in the Disenchantment episode where Bean tries creative writing, leering over my shoulder and jeering at me every time I sat down to write:

Disenchantment Ep In Her Own Write Writing Demons
Luci ‘helping’ Bean write. Disenchantment is on Netflix and it’s silly but enjoyable!

Do your writing demons criticise your stories? How the heck do you get rid of them, or at least train them to be kinder, so you can actually get some writing done?

Practice Self Awareness:

The first step is noticing negative thoughts. Until April, when I caught the evil whispers in the act, I didn’t notice how often I was putting my writing down. Negative thought patterns tend to creep in without us noticing. They’re crafty like that!

When you’re writing, note how you feel and what you’re telling yourself about your project. What words do you use? What thoughts do you have? If they’re positive, awesome, if not, learn to recognise where those negative thoughts are coming from and deal with them.

Turn that Frown Upside Down:

Every time you think a negative thought, counter it with a positive one. It’s not easy, but it’s possible with practice. When you notice those demons, stop, take a deep breath, and fight back.

angel-1939761_640

If your demons insist your stories are terrible? Counter with ‘My stories are awesome,’ or, ‘I’m writing a first draft and I love my characters.’ Try to catch your negative inner voice in the act, dismiss the thought, and imagine it floating away.

Remind Yourself of the Shiny Stuff:

Focus on the things you love about your stories. Characters, lines of dialogue, anything you’re particularly proud of. Your ideas are worthy. They’re valid. They have as much right to exist as any one else’s ideas. Focus on what’s most important to you in a story and write that.

I love plenty of things about my stories. My characters are epic, my stories are all re-tellings of my favourite stories ever, or based on fanfic ships I adore, and there are dragons. I need to remind myself of the positives, vanquish my inner demons, and get on with writing!

Justify Your Thoughts:

Negative thoughts are often unfounded. Thoughts like ‘this is terrible’ aren’t very specific. Challenge it. Ask yourself why it’s terrible. Nine times out of ten your Inner Demon will flounder and insist it just is without any evidence to back it up!

police-3284258_640
Your Inner Demon would make a terrible detective!

Think about the truth behind the thought. Is there any? It’s harder to believe negative thoughts if you can’t justify them, but if you can justify them…

Take Action:

If you think your negative thoughts might have some basis, ask a beta reader. Talk to a friend. If you still think you need to improve, learn more about whatever aspect of writing you think you’re struggling with. We all start somewhere, and we can all improve with practice.

Use a Shotgun:

If all else fails, use a shotgun. No, not a real one, put it away! Now, take out your ‘mental’ shotgun, and acknowledge the unwelcome or negative thought with it. Sometimes, the only way to get rid of negative thoughts is to visualise their demise. This takes a bit of practice and imagination, but we’re writers. We’re used to practice and have imagination in spades!

scales divider copy

Thanks for Reading!

I think I got a bit carried away at the end there! Writers often suffer with inner demons. Before I started to address them, 85% of my thoughts about my stories were negative. It’s no wonder I struggle to finish first drafts!

What do your inner voices tell you about your writing? If they’re positive, awesome, share your secrets! Do your inner demons put your stories down? How do you overcome negative thinking? Chat in the Comments!

This post is part of the Author Toolbox Blog Hop, hosted by Raimey Gallant. The hop runs from January to October, sharing resources and tips for writers. Check out other hop posts here:

ATB

My past posts:

Lessons in Storytelling from TV and Film
MA Creative Writing

33 comments

  1. Excellent post! I like your strategy. I think it is similar to ways to deal with anxiety in general. They are along the lines of: recognizing the thought when it comes, understanding that you don’t need to see it as a friend or an enemy but just as a thought, accepting it (not believing it per say, but just acknowledging its presence), and let it float on by like a leaf on a stream (and you can also check the facts, which I think is similar to what you said about taking action and seeing whether the thought has any basis). The tricky part about fact checking is making sure you don’t ruminate. Nonetheless, I think the tactics I listed and what you wrote are quite similar and emphasize accepting and letting go of thoughts. πŸ™‚ As for my writing struggles, I too get thoughts/fears about whether my writing is good enough, whether I will be able to grow (and address all beta comments), and lack of confidence in general. But your tips are going to help me a lot. Thank you :).

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, I actually used most of these tips to deal with anxiety a few years ago πŸ™‚ (I still sometimes get stuck in the fact checking stage though. No matter what I’m researching once I start I find it hard to stop!)
      You’re welcome, good luck with your writing πŸ™‚

      Liked by 2 people

      • That’s great! Which tip would you say is most helpful for dealing with anxiety?
        I feel you. Once we get started, it is so fun to research and learn. Is there a certain topic that you research more than others?

        Best wishes with your writing!

        Liked by 1 person

          • Sounds like a fun approach too. I definitely agree we need to acknowledge thoughts – can’t deny them or spend too much time fighting them, though visualizing their demise is fun.

            lol did you have a plane crash in your story?

            Liked by 1 person

            • The plane crash was in a Psych fanfiction, where two characters who don’t get on get stranded together in the wilderness πŸ˜†

              I think there are only planes in one of my original stories, one world has moved on from planes, to space travel, and the other is medieval style so limited technology!

              Like

  2. Great post! My inner demon is a slacker and would rather have me binge watching things – telling me it’s for “research purposes”. I listen to it more, unfortunately. Hahaha…

    Liked by 1 person

  3. There were no demons when I wrote my first book, Louise, because I didn’t intend to show it to anyone, much less publish it. But the rest? Yes, they were there, telling me that scene wasn’t good enough, or that character seemed flat. If I’m honest, my inner self-critique served me right, because I’d look at those scenes, or characters, with a different lens. Some I changed, others I didn’t. And you’re right about the betas, they help a lot.
    Loved that part with the shotgun!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I definitely think for me it’s reading books I think work and seeing how I can improve the pacing. Alot of times for me it’s going in and doing a great sweep of editing πŸ™‚ Happy Hop Day πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I definitely struggle with “my inner demons.”
    I find that what often works for me is a certain amount .of “okay, what would be a better alternative?” Which often seems to disarm that inner critic. Either the conversation turns into “well this is what we can do better” or (more often) “I don’t know” and “I” respond with “okay, well then if the options are doing nothing or doing something, I think doing something is better.”
    “But it’s not very good.”
    “Maybe not, but the only way it’s ever going to get better is to keep at it.”

    I feel like there’s this recurring idea that somehow “if it’s not good, it’s not worth doing.”
    As a culture we often seem to regard “bad outcomes” as a mistake, when the reality is it’s often the freedom and safety to “risk doing badly” without fear or consequences that allow us to thrive.

    Look at video games. You try a thing, it doesn’t work, and now you “know more” about what does and doesn’t work. Granted, there is a point where I go “how many times have I gotten a poor result now?” But (to a point) there’s real value in “trying” not for the sake of “doing it right this time” but on the theory that “if you try a bunch of different things, one of them should be right.”

    Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I don’t have a writing demon. I have a marketing demon. I write the book and then
    Is it the fear of failure or success?
    I wrote a book last year. Did not publish. Wrote the 2nd in the series. The 3rd. Am working on the 4th. Didn’t hit the publish button yet, but now I have a bright shiny calendar and I’ve gone public with the first release date.
    It’s mind over matter, and I’m putting on my big girl panties.

    Liked by 1 person

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