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The Monster That Lives in Every Writer’s Heart

This guest post is by Miriam Nicholson. Miriam is an avid reader, a passionate writer, and a dreamer. You can find more of her writing in the recent comments posts The Write Practice or her latest guest posts here. You can also email her at mysticalmiriam(at)gmail.com. Welcome back, Miriam!

Deep within every writer’s heart lives a monster. It grows from neglect and thrives off of doubt. It controls you. It frightens you, and yet you hope that it will not defeat you.

monster that lives

Every writer has the sword of success to fight this dragon, because every little success and self-satisfaction that we get in our writing delivers a blow to that beast.

Every word that is written cuts it, every chapter you complete frightens it and because of its fear it wishes to do anything and everything in its power to stop you. It’s a desperate little beggar, one that fears our success. It wishes to make us put up boundaries against ourselves so that we can feel the fear that it does, and stop our progression.

Who Is this Monster?

This monster reminds me of me deep inside. At the center of my writer’s heart there lives a fear, one that prevents me from writing and makes me question my work. It has held me in its power for two years, held captive yet I knew nothing of being so held.

The monster of self-doubt that I mentioned above reminds me of a mother hen. It wants to shelter us, and overprotect us, preventing us from getting hurt. Wanting to keep us in our bubble where nothing bad can happen. It wants us to be afraid of rejection so that we never reach out ourselves.

How do we overcome this monster of self-doubt? How do we accomplish the thing that we need to? How do we do what we love?

What this Monster has Done to Me

If you read my previous blog post, you will know that I was bullied from sixth grade to high school. This experience unintentionally started my career of a writer.

From seventh to ninth grade, I started the first draft of my novel and finished it. I hadn’t thought of what people would think of it or if it would amount to anything. In my mind it was perfect. I had written a novel!

I put it away for a time and the idea developed from there. Only one thing was wrong with this development, I had stopped writing anything. Unknowing, I began to grow my monster, every day it got bigger and bigger. I noticed nothing about this till I picked back up my first draft.

A new voice had come to my head, one bluntly criticizing my work. I agreed with it thinking, “Oh, this is only my first attempt. It’s OK to criticize myself on this draft.”

But now I can’t form a daily writing habit. On bad writing days I can’t write anything because I simply keep deleting them thinking, “This just doesn’t sound right!” even though there is nothing wrong with the words.

How do I fix this problem? How do I ignore what I’ve become accustomed to? How do I become a writer again?

Things I am Doing to Help With Doubt

I don’t have the one solution that fixes everything, but I do have things I’m starting to do every day to become better.

Meditate for Fifteen Minutes

I am starting to meditate every day for fifteen minutes which I find helps clear my head. During this time I empty my mind and try to keep my breathing as regular as possible. If I have any thoughts about things I need to do that day, things I’m stressing over, or doubts on my writing or self I tell myself ‘Don’t worry about it right now, now is your alone time,’ and I continue.

Write Every Day

Yes, as you can imagine, this is one that I have a ton of trouble with, but here’s what I’m doing to help myself get better.

  1. Write your minimum number of words per day. This helps me personally, because I need to have a goal in place to help me stayed focused. Pick a word count that you feel you can write at least every day and go from there. Increase it when you feel you can until you have comfortable amount.
  2. Take you’re writing slow. Maybe Fast First Drafts aren’t for you, no one said that you had to write super-fast to be a writer. If you can focus better writing slow then go for it! After all, every novel is written one word at a time.
  3. Don’t let ANYONE tell you how to write your book. Just as every person is different, so is every writer’s style different. Don’t base how good of a writer you are off of someone else. If you are proud of your work than that is enough. After all, one of the most important person we write for is ourselves.

Doubt is a Monster

Doubt gets the best of us. It attacks us and deteriorates our confidence. It even stops aspiring authors like me from writing anything for two years. We can battle it by writing every day, meditating, taking our writing slow and following our own voice.

People are going to disagree with you, they are going to push you down and laugh at you. You are going to get rejected by publishers, and criticized when you do get published by those who are not worth your writing.

It’s OK. We all go through this as writers, its overcoming these that gets us published. If you are going through doubt, procrastination, or simply think that there is no way you can write a book, I’d urge you to try some of the suggestions above. Write every day, even if it is only a sentence or two. Habits are formed by repetition.

You ARE a writer and you WILL make a difference in the world, even if you only touch one person. Let us defeat doubt together, one day at a time.

What about you? Have you ever been so struck with doubt that you stopped writing? What do you do to overcome your doubt?

PRACTICE

Here we have three whole options for you!

Option 1: Meditate for fifteen minutes as directed above. After those fifteen minutes, write about how it made you feel and how it can apply to your writing.

Option 2: Choose a word count goal that you’d like to accomplish today and fulfill it! After your done share with us in the comments a piece of that writing.

Option 3: Try to write as slow as you can to get your brain flowing. Create your best work by writing this way and share with us in the comments section.

Happy Writing!

About Miriam Nicholson

Miriam is a dreamer and very passionate about the writing craft. She is an avid reader, known to often finish a series of books within in a couple of weeks. Though she lacks a facebook, twitter, and a blog, you can find more of her writing in the recent comments of a post on The Write Practice or recent blog post she has written for The Write Practice. Or email her at mysticalmiriam(at)gmail.com

  • Thanks for this post, Miriam!
    I’m so glad that you are conquering your fears. You are a talented writer (And don’t let anyone tell you otherwise!). 🙂 I really liked this line:
    “You ARE a writer and you WILL make a difference in the world, even if you only touch one person. Let us defeat doubt together, one day at a time.”

    I don’t usually write slowly, so here’s my attempt at practice option #3:

    The sun kisses the horizon, sending sprays of color on the rippling water. The beach sand is soft and almost cold beneath my feet as the evening air encompasses me. It’s moments like this when I feel most alive. I inhale the fresh, salty air and feel it travel through me. My heart swells with contentment. I’ve grown up gazing at Florida sunsets, but they’ve never dimmed in my eyes. Sunset is when I feel most like myself. It’s when I say goodbye to today–all the thorns that stabbed me and the roses that reminded me that life is still beautiful–and I watch the sun fall below the water, knowing that it will rise again and a new day will begin. And with each new day I become more thankful to be alive, to breathe this ocean air, and to say simple prayers from a heart that’s found home.

    • Miriam N

      I love the imagery on this Joy! Took me right to the beach on that sunset. Great Job!

      • Thank you, Miriam! 🙂

    • AB

      I love this glimpse of the ocean, Joy. I’ve never seen it, except in pictures and movies. I have heard that, in Florida, the sun sets suddenly and the world goes from light to darkness very quickly. Here in Kansas we have long, lovely twilights, so it is hard for me to imagine that type of sudden darkening of the world.

      I really like your line – all the thorns that stabbed me and the roses that reminded me that life is still beautiful. What a lovely thought!

      • Thanks AB! I’m glad I could share a glimpse of the ocean. 🙂 That is interesting about Kansas’ twilight. I didn’t know that.

  • AB

    I want to share a little bit about how I came to the Write Practice and what I hope to achieve. I spent 20 years in an abusive marriage – not physically abusive, but verbally,
    mentally, and psychologically. I went into that period of my life full of hopes
    and dreams and skills, and came out lifeless, soulless, a hollow-eyed survivor
    who could do little more than simply put one foot in front of the other to
    survive.

    It has taken me 12 years to deconstruct my walls, brick by
    brick, recovering my lost self and its hopes and dreams. I am finally waking
    from my long sleep, ready to break up the fallow ground and plant some seeds
    and see what will grow.

    My daughter introduced me to a motivational speaker by the
    name of Robin Sharma and his YouTube video about how to get up early. He calls
    it the 5 a.m. club, and says that if you do it for 66 days you will rewire your
    brain to make it a habit. I started doing that, and it has changed my life. In
    one of his videos, Robin references the following poem by Rabinranath Tagore,
    which really motivated me to take up writing again, even though it has been
    30-plus years since I wrote anything but letters. This is a loose translation,
    not a direct quote:

    Spring is past.

    Summer is gone.

    Winter is here,

    And the song I meant to sing remains unsung

    For I have spent my best days

    Stringing and unstringing my instrument.

    I have given up enough years to my fears and doubts. Now it is time to
    put feet to my dreams and see whether I can sing the song that I came here to
    sing. Here are some ways I am working toward my dream (and remember, I just
    started). I intend to read at least one book per week on the craft of writing,
    along with at least one other non-fiction book that will increase my knowledge
    and skill in some other area. I intend to read at least one fiction book each
    week, not just for pleasure, but to study the way other writers put their
    material together. I also listen to audiobooks an hour a day on my way to work
    and back. And I intend to write at least one paragraph per day, starting here
    at the Write Practice, but expanding when I can. As I already work two jobs, my
    time is limited, but my motivation is strong. I invite others who are writing
    here to please critique my work as you see fit. I have wasted enough time and I
    am ready to move forward!

    • Wow! This is really incredible, AB! Keep sharing your practice! 🙂

    • Miriam N

      Wonderful Plan AB! You show that doubt who’s boss.

  • EndlessExposition

    I went with option 2. Here’s today’s work from my WIP. Reviews are always appreciated!

    The Oak Ridge Public Library was a long, low, brick building at the bottom of Oak Ridge Memorial Park, left of The Village, past the train trestle and across the road from Oak Ridge Middle School. I used to go there all the time to do my homework. I had my own special spot in the basement, between Education and True Crime.

    We cut through the park to get there faster. By the time we arrived the rain had let up. My sweatshirt was soaked through though and my teeth were chattering. Alicia looked absolutely miserable. “Leave it to us to be the only idiots in this godforsaken park in a rainstorm. All of the intelligent people are no doubt inside with a strong cup of coffee,” she grumbled.

    “Hey, coming here was your idea. And the rain has pretty much stopped.” I jerked my head towards the rear of building. “The bike rack is around the back. You can go inside if you want while I put this away.”

    Alicia shook her head. “No, it’s alright. I can wait for a few minutes.”

    “Okay, be right back.” I walked the bike as quickly as I could down the asphalt path. There was a row of holly bushes against its back wall; the deep emerald leaves all glistened with raindrops. The bike rack was stuck in some grassy ground by a sapling. An old man was sitting against the sapling, a green felt hat pulled over his eyes and an open book downturned over his lap. He didn’t sleep though the rain, did he? Geez. But he looked alright and I didn’t want to wake him up or anything, so I wheeled my bike onto the grass. It immediately got stuck in some mud. I pushed it hard, trying not to make any noise and failing epically. And of course: I slipped. My foot slid on the wet grass, I dropped the bike with a clang and I fell over onto the old man’s legs.

    Crap crap crap!

    “Oh my God, I’m so sorry, are you alright?” I looked up. The old man hadn’t woken. He had only tipped over slightly. An unexplainable wave of dread rippled through my stomach.

    “Um, hello?” His hat had been knocked slightly to the side. I reached out and lifted it. The man was older than I had realized, maybe seventy. His thin gray hair had been kept dry by the hat and floated around his head in wisps. His wrinkled skin was bunched strangely on his cheeks, because his mouth was contorted in a grimace, like he was in pain. His open eyes stared at me, cold and glazed over. Lifeless.

    Oh my God.

    • AB

      Wow! Can’t wait to see what happens!

    • Miriam N

      Amazing cliff-hanger EndlessExposition! I can’t wait to see where you go with this!

  • LOVE THIS, Miriam! You are so right — I am my own worst enemy. I was trying to write something for blog, and it just wasn’t happening today. I could feel my frustration building, then I discovered this post.

    It was just what I needed today. Thank you!

    • Miriam N

      You are so welcome Marcy. I’m glad I could help you today. You might say that it was me repaying you for helping me many a time. I wish you well on your writing. 🙂

  • Sequoia Cougar

    WOW that was a fantastic kick in the buttism! I love that…because everyday I wonder if I’m doing the right thing! and I KNOW I am..Thank you for that Blog!

    • Miriam N

      :). You are most welcome. I’m glad I helped you Sequoia

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  • Just as my thoughts!!! Miriam you are just to the point. The main reason of your failures almost always is you personally. I love that really… Now trying to fight against my own doubts.

    • Miriam N

      Awesome Laura 🙂 I hope you will be able to over come the monster of doubt inside of you. Happy Writing and thanks for commenting on my blog post.