Thursday, September 22, 2011

Do-it-Yourself Angst Therapy for Writers

Current Project: Submissions
Status: Don't ask
The first thing you’ll need is a Reality Check Book documenting your writing kudos. This scrapbook or online document is a record you create for you own use.

Kudos may include:
  • positive comments from contest judges (nothing negative)
  • positive comments in critiques of your work
  • photos of you hanging out with writers
  • requests for you to submit your work to an agent or editor
  • positive comments on blog posts
  • shorter works that were accepted for publication in print or online (newsletter articles, short stories, etc.) (whether or not money changed hands)
  • recognition by your peers (PRO or PAN status, earning an award from your local writers group, a request for you to critique or mentor another writer, doing a speaking engagement or workshop, etc.)
  • positive reviews
  • positive sales numbers
  • your book covers

In addition to your Reality Check Book, you’ll need the following:
  • An uninterrupted half-hour
  • A mug that makes you smile
  • A beverage that makes you feel pampered
  • Chocolate or other indulgence that you savor
  • Your favorite scented hand cream or scented candle
  • A pen or pencil and a notebook
  • A comfy place to sit  
  1. Whilst enjoying a little self-pampering, take a few minutes to write down the negative thoughts you’re having about writing. Be honest. No one will see this but you.
  2. Take fifteen minutes or so to read your Reality Check Book. (Feel a little better?)
  3. Now read your first negative thought, and then write down the reality that counters it.
Here are some examples:

I’m not really a writer.
I’m a writer. I write, study craft, get feedback, write. Writers continuously learn and get better at writing. No one is a perfect writer.

I’ll never be good enough to get published.
Someday I’ll get published. Usually, it takes years. Lots of people see merit in my writing. My Reality Check Book proves that. If I continue to study craft, learn about the industry, write, and submit my work, I will get published.

Do this for each of your writing fears. Put them in perspective. We tend to minimize our accomplishments and maximize our fears. Writing the truth helps quiet the negative thoughts that our subconscious minds produce when we take risks. 

We writers are famous for our angst (almost as famous as teenagers). There's a reason for this. Words are powerful, and writing is a dangerous business.

Writer, heal thyself.


Paty Jager said...

Great post, Sarah! I love the idea of the scrapbook of positives. I think every writer should have one.

Sarah Raplee said...

I do, too. :) We so tend to focus on and give credence to our negative thoughts that we need a reality check.

chanceofbooks said...

Absolutely stellar post Sarah. Your best ever I think. Am totally doing this the next time I get discouraged. I have two new motos: "Why not me?" "You can't win the brass ring if you don't ride the carousel." In other words, *someone* has to 'win', so why not me, but I won't ever find out if I don't write, enter, and submit.

Sarah Raplee said...

Thank you, Bethany. I hope this post helps other writers to maintain or grow their confidence and to persevere.

Deborah Wright said...

Sarah, this was a wonderful post! The Reality Check Book is a great idea. My favorite line is:

"Words are powerful, and writing is a dangerous business."

I love that. I'm putting on a post-it and sticking it on my monitor!

Genene Valleau said...

Chiming in with kudos for this post, Sarah! What a great idea!

Now, I just need to schedule time to do this. LOL!

Sarah Raplee said...

I'm glad this post struck a chord with you, Deb and Genene.

Genene, my suggestion for finding the time is to create your Reality Check Book when next you need a confidence boost. When we're down, we're not as productive anyway.

Deb, I find those thoughts inspirational, too. I paraphrased the Bible and an author I'm not sure of (I think it's Stephen King, but maybe not.)