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.
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:
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.
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!
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…
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!
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:
My past posts: