I’m not talking about your characters and their constant gibber-jabbering in your head. I’m talking about that voice that belittles you, doubts you, makes you second guess yourself. The one that tells you that you’re not a good writer, that you will never publish your book, that the time you spend writing and thinking about your stories is wasteful. That voice can be damaging to writers and at times it torments us endlessly, it seems.
Be heedful of your reaction to that voice. Don’t let it beat you down. Keep writing. Stories, poems, journal entries, blogs. Keep submitting your novel. If you have been submitting your manuscript to publishing companies for a long time now, take another look at it. Is there anything you can add, take out or rewrite to make it better? Done with that? Then submit it again. Do yourself a favor and don’t get hung up on that one novel. Write another novel and then another one after that. Write some short stories and submit them to literary magazines (like ours!) and see what happens. The trick to getting published is persistence through thick and thin. It’s hard work, but keep at it!
But back to that nasty voice… how can we keep that negative side at bay? What can we do when it feels like our entire universe, our very reason for existing, is collapsing in around us? Well, here are some ideas:
1. Talk To Someone That Understands
Sometimes it just isn’t enough to talk to a friend (one that doesn’t write). Having someone there for you who understands the heartache that comes with writing and related goals can be an emotional life saver. Ideally you would have a friend who is also a writer that you can talk to, but sometimes it doesn’t work out quite so nice. You can find people around you that share your same passion for writing who have been through those ups and downs. Check out a writing group, even if it’s an online writing group. Just knowing that there are others out there with the same struggles is incredibly strengthening and motivating. That connection will help you get through those tough times.
2. Yoga and Meditation
This is no joke. There are many health benefits to those who practice yoga and meditation including stress relief and the ability to handle the stresses of your writing life better as well as less instances of depression (which almost always comes with rejection, for me at least). Studies show that both yoga and meditation can help you live a fuller, longer, healthier life. Hell ya! Who doesn’t want that? Scientists found that meditation actually lengthens your telomeres. Telomere shortening is the main cause of the age-related break down of our cells. Crazy! Okay, didn’t mean to go all health nerd on you!
If you find that you are constantly dealing with that darn voice and it just won’t leave you alone and you’re having trouble handling the stress and/or depression that comes along with that then give one or both of these a try! For those of you who are less inclined to exercise, yoga doesn’t have to difficult. It can be incredibly relaxing, just read up on it and find your yoga style. There are many out there! It also doesn’t have to be expensive. I use YouTube. I like Yoga With Adrienne (If you want a touch of silly) and Yoga By Candace. You won't regret it.
3. Improve Your Writing
This is a no-brainer. If you really want to push that voice aside then gain some confidence in your writing ability. Take a class, join a writing group, or try writing in that point of view that you haven’t experimented with yet. Do something that will make you a better writer. The best way to become a better writer is to write. A lot. Consistently. You hear it a lot and I’m sure you’re sick of it, but reminders are good. I’ve found that I need to be reminded of this constantly. It keeps me on track.
4. Look Deep Down
Look inside yourself. Self reflection has proven to be quite helpful for me in that it allows me to see why I react the way I do when that voice creeps into my mind. For instance, when I struggle with rejection and all those awful thoughts that come with it, I shut down. When I’m depressed like that I can’t even listen to music or watch anything that is even remotely sad. I don’t want to think about it. I don’t want to confront the source of my sadness.
I recognized that when I examined myself. Then I did something about it. I took all those negative thoughts like: you’ll never be good enough or writing is pointless, do something that is worthwhile and instead of running away from those thoughts, I acknowledged they were there, I took a deep breath and I moved on. I kept writing and I kept submitting. I kept going. The process was a bit longer than that, but you get the point.
What do you do to get past these damaging thoughts? Do you pray? Eat a pound of chocolate? Run? Take a vacation? Go base jumping? Whatever your escape is, remember that there are healthy ways to deal with all those big, ugly feelings. You can even talk to us if you’d like! Send us an email! I guarantee you either Stevie or I (maybe both) have been through a similar experience as you! We love you guys and hope this blog helps ease your pain, depression, anxiety, whatever it is that ails you, and allows you to move on.