I decided to do a little Sunday (non-religious) motivational today. I read another blog where an aspiring author was (or sounded) severely depressed about the inability to get going as a writer. I left some heartfelt encouragement there. I’d been struggling with the same issues myself for the longest time after all.
I think there are other writers out there that could use similar words of encouragement. With that in mind, I want to pass on what’s helped me make my breakthroughs.
First, one of the biggest causes of writer’s block is simply self-doubt. That, in turn, frequently comes from being too externally focused. That means you’re basing your sense of self-worth on the input of others. The problem with that is people are almost always negative if you have a dream different from where they’re at or aiming for in life. Why?
Because they’re secretly jealous that you have the courage to try something different and chase a dream. If you succeed, it’ll make them feel all the worse about themselves that they never even had the courage to try.
The million different rationalizations you’ll hear will all be cached in terms of protecting you, not wanting to see you fail, wanting you to be realistic, etc… The truth is though that they’re scared of what they THINK your potential success means for or reflects upon them. They’re probably not evil, just worn down by life and rationalizing on a level so deep that they don’t even realize why they’re truly attacking you.
In terms of dealing with the negative feedback, the best option in my opinion, is to turn it around in a friendly positive way. Ask them about their dreams and then encourage them to chase those, “even if it’s just a hobby or side gig”. That last part will make it sound less threatening for them to do so.
The main thing though, especially with breaking through the writer’s block and struggling, is you have to let go of the self-doubt and have faith in yourself. You’ll struggle, you’ll fall, but THAT’S OK. It’s part of the learning process. Accept that, gently analyze where you came up short, and work to do better next time.
Beyond that, you have to do it for YOU. NOT to prove others wrong, (although that does work for some people), not to get an inflated ego that will block your learning and growth either. Write show yourself that you’re capable, to grow better, and because it brings you joy. When you can give yourself permission to do that, it won’t matter how many books you write, or how many you sell. You’ll be a success because you’ll be growing as a person. Work at it though, and the financial success will likely follow the emotional and spiritual success. 😉
ALMOST everybody has the talent to be a good writer. Want to know a secret? Almost everybody has the talent to be a great ANYTHING. You just have to be willing to work at it. Michael Jordan and Lebron James were NOT born great basketball players. They got to be legends among professionals because they worked at it 8 or more hours a day, every day. I guarantee you they were rough at first also. They were determined to work at something they loved though and gave themselves permission to fail as long as they learned from it.
Likewise, realize that you CAN do it (whether it’s writing or anything else). It WILL be slow at first, and you WILL have to be dedicated to continually improving yourself. Time, effort and patience, especially with yourself, is all it takes.
As far as some writers turning out tons of books a year… I guarantee you very few people doing that are turning out QUALITY work. At least not their best quality. Even a good portion of James Patterson’s books are ghost written. Maxine Paetro writes all his “Women’s Murder Club” books, for example. On the flip side, Michelangelo took 4 years to paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, but everybody remembers it. Ergo, it’s OK to work slowly, just keep going.