Battling Inner Gremlins

Have you ever heard the doubts in your head as a writer? That voice that says things like this is crap, no one will read this, and you’re not as good as the authors x,y, and z. They say a bunch of other things, too, and everyone has their own version of this.

They may stem from your inner critic and inner editor, or it may stem from past comments from family and friends. Either way, they tend to be detrimental and make you feel like you just can’t write anymore. They make you feel like you could be doing something better with your time.

The thing is, they are almost never right. Sure, they may have some valid points, but every first draft needs a whole lot of editing. And a 50,000+ word novel? Those are very hard to write and keep the plot, subplot, and characters straight. Not to mention that if you are writing a fantasy, science fiction, or historical novel the loads of research and story building that has to be kept in order and kept track of to make sure the novel is consistent and has no contradictions (that aren’t meant to be there).

It’s hard work. And with everything else going on in your life you need to give yourself a break. Have some self-compassion if you make a mistake, don’t reach your goals, or write a terrible scene. You can start again tomorrow. The whole point is to keep going.

Have you heard of the 10,000-hour rule/ theory? Basically, it’s that you have to spend 10,000 hours on something before you become an expert at it. That’s just under 417 days (all twenty-four hours of them). Over a year. Most of us don’t stick to it long enough to try. And that’s just spent practicing. That doesn’t include all the reading, research and other stuff that goes into writing. It’s calculated by how many hours you spend scratching pen (or pencil) to paper or hammering away at a keyboard (typewriter, computer, etc). And actually working on your project of choice. Want to write a novel? spend 10,000 hours writing them. Short stories? Same thing. The best way to master a piece of writing is to keep at it, day after day.

The more you write your chosen length, genre, etc, the easier it will become. Take that advice from a novelist from the documentary Between the Covers (mentioned in a blog post here). She said “My first novel took me five years. The second, about a year. The third, around four months.”

The more you write and get used to the length and style of your writing project of choice, the easier it will become. Repeated for emphasis.

Also, finding a method of writing that works for you helps, too. Whether it’s detailed outlines for each scene, chapter or less detailed with major plot points, or whether it’s just sitting down and writing whatever comes to mind, finding what works for you and the way your brain works is important. Read what other writers did. Try them and tweak them. Figure out what your brain needs to keep writing and be inspired.

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