Confusion, writer’s block, your Muse’s evil twin, dis-empowerment – call it what you will, but the writing demons are no joke. All writers/artists/creators experience it, but I had no idea to what extent until I joined the “inner circle” myself.
Growing up, I was always fascinated by author backgrounds: Who they were as real people, and how they came to be known. It’d always baffle me when a big author would reflect on their pre-published selves and say things such as: “I questioned if people would even like my story. I didn’t know if it would be good enough.”
Now that I am a young padowan learner myself, on my own mission to gain authorship, I understand this thinking entirely! The writing demons are just as real as the Muses, I feel. If any one thing is going to try and remind me about the Invisible Kid, it’s those pesky demons. So while I am no expert, I thought I’d mention some of the things I’ve learned to do when the “evil twin” comes a’ knockin’:
- STEP AWAY from the manuscript.
It should be obvious, but I’ve been surprised at how hard this actually is. It’s actually a little ridiculous because usually for me, I don’t even have to step away for very long! Sometimes no more than a few hours, other times a few days. Either way, get your eyes off those documents. Just do it.
2. Hit up your friends for a morale boost.
Your writing amigos, your critique or support group, your mom, your writing coach, your social media supporters – anyone who is invested in your journey. I’m not saying that you should beg for compliments, flattery, or sympathy, but rather, engage with those who can relate to what you’re going through, even if it’s just for some comic relief. Heck, you don’t even have to talk about writing. Turn on a movie, break out the ice cream. Treat yo’ self.
3. Keep “writing” without actually writing.
I’m learning that everything we do is a form of writing. We live it. We breathe it. We sleep it. Often, to remain creative instead of staring aimlessly at a blank computer screen, I’ll put on a writing podcast or listen to an audiobook (often times I’ll even stay within the genre I’m writing). It keeps my creative brain active while my eyes are off the actual manuscript. I’ll also look for story structure in films, T.V. shows, commercials, picture books – whatever I’m surrounded by. In fact, I can’t NOT see story structure any more – ha! – A writer’s curse, I’m afraid.
4. Change settings.
Go on a drive. Experience the outdoors – even if it’s just for 10 minutes. Since I’m a stay-at-home-mom I’ll often hit up the park with the kids – something that both delights them and clears my head at the same time. It’s a win-win.
5. Return to your manuscript only once your brain is no longer a spinning hamster wheel.
Sometimes this is the hardest part, getting back on that horse. The writing demons are crafty. They play on our weaknesses and are well-practiced in the art of self-doubt, which ultimately leads to procrastination. If you try but still feel irritable/confused/frustrated/disinterested, revisit some of the above techniques. Don’t force the writing if your brain isn’t ready but also remember that it’s what the demons want. They don’t want that book completed…but the world does! Keep that in mind when you’re finally ready to saddle up again and “write” (see what I did there?).
“Experience is merely the name men gave to their mistakes.” – Oscar Wilde