There is a psychological nuisance so powerful that can deflate the drive, self-esteem, and human spirit of many aspiring Writers of any age. These Writers are faced with an obstacle that make them stop, think twice and question their right to be a part of a respected community. This even leads them to doubt their ambition of pursuing their literary or journalistic calling.
It is that inner voice echoing: “Huh! Who do you think you are, a J. K. Rowling in the making?” or “Oh my God, stop pretending you have a literary mind!” and more similar lines of thinking. Some may call it a fiend while others may describe it as the self-defeating aspect of a person.
If you have been afflicted as I have been, do not worry, the voice speaks only in behalf of detractors, real or imagined. It is not the embodiment of the authentic gift of creativity you and I were born with.
When you know you have a great idea brewing in your head that you could almost see it completed in your mind, strike the keys; When the voice blows its cacophony horn, resist the urge to stop.
Mind and Behavior
How your thinking becomes your staunch enemy at times has reasons of its own.
While confidence takes a respite, this occupational hazard of qualm attacks during your journey as a blossoming writer haunts even the best of Writers.
“I have written practically nothing yet, and now again the time is getting short. There is nothing done. I am no nearer my achievement than I was two months ago, and I keep half doubting my will to perform anything. Each time I make a move my demon says at almost the same moment:” Oh, yes, we’ve heard that before!” Katherine Mansfield (1888-1923), British short story Writer.
Just as how old manipulative thinking habits have repeatedly, slowly, and unconsciously crept into your subconscious, so shall you replace them with new ones consciously.
“Whatever action we take is first of all determined by our thoughts, so if we change our thoughts, we can change the way we behave.” Cherith Powell and Greg Forde
Decision is your first step. Redeem your faith in your ability to write by making up your mind of wanting to do so. Ignore unwanted mental murmurs right away. Refuse to dwell on them.
“Anytime you can be aware of and witness your own thoughts, instead of becoming lost or absorbed in them, you’re in a position to grow from your experience rather than being immobilized by it,” Richard Carlson, Ph.D., famous author and Expert on happiness and stress.
Act on this decision by writing always until the habit has been embedded in your system. Stick to it. The discipline will condition your mind to an ‘I can’ attitude and will provide you with proofs of your writing skill, slowly but surely.
Search for the inner voice responsible for getting you on board this vessel of courage to have ever wanted to write or written a few pieces in the first place. Relive it. Delight in it.
However, more than positive self-talk, you will need something tangible to corroborate your long buried positive belief. Produce the written piece. It will bear out the reality of your skill as a writer and will sustain the writer’s spirit running in your vein.
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” Aristotle.
In addition, submitting your work often and getting published even in small publications (print or online) immerse you more in the world of writing and defines further what you really want, what you can achieve and what you will ultimately become. It validates you further as a writer in your eyes and in the eyes of others.
A published work further nullifies that damaging inner voice and even the real detractors (in contrast to professional, constructive and objective Literary Critics) existing beyond your writing comfort zone.
“Do you want to know who you are? Don’t ask Act. Action will delineate and define you. You will find out from your actions.” Witold Gombrowicz (1904-1969), Polish Novelist, Playwright, Essayist.
Beating the Beast Within
Make it a habit to study the lives of people who started out with wobbling knees in careers totally different from the degree they have earned in college, dreaming dreams that no one thought they could reach. Count the number of times they were told they were misfits but went on to succeed in fields seemingly incompatible to their personality and intellect.
Read Writers’ biographies and unearth their struggles, look around you and be inspired. Shift your focus from the mockery of your thoughts to real quiet people who never bragged but wrote nonetheless with profundity.
As a late blooming writer myself I employ these pointers. In my own pace, I have learned to fight back. The automatic reaction casts out the ugly feeling of inefficiency and helps me to proceed.
It may not guarantee a life free of backslidings to negative self-talks but these mental approaches serve as buffers that strengthen the mental defenses overtime until the bad voices are subdued.
The advice of other writers that says write, write, and write is a gold mine. It sharpens and stimulates your writing mind. Best of all it brings you closer to your vision and away from your psychological beasts.
So unless you do exactly the opposite of what your demon says you cannot do, your inner battle will not be silenced.
Pursue your dream. Write!
Sources: The Writer’s Life as edited by Carol Edgarian and Tom Jenks
Shortcut Through Therapy by Richard Carlson Ph.D.
Self Hypnosis by Cherith Powell and Greg Forde
About The Author
Grace V. Planas, Filipino-Chinese residing in the Philippines, is a Homemaker and part-time Writer. She holds a degree in Accounting and has completed correspondence courses on Freelance Journalism and Adult Psychology. Formerly a Contributing Writer for Working Woman Magazine - Philippines, she writes self-help/Psychology, inspirational, and personal essay pieces. She also writes poems, short stories/flash fictions. Most of her works have been published in various Websites like, The Writers’ Life, AbsoluteWrite-The Debate Desk, ArticleCity.com and other online Writing sites. Her published magazine articles are posted at: www.geocities.com/my_hearts_haven.
This article was posted on August 15, 2003