I was thrilled to hear that I’m not the only writer who struggles with demons in the process of creation. Years ago, in an American Night Writers Association’s writing conference, I took a class that addressed such a topic. Michelle Wilson and J. Scott Savage assured us they constantly fight off devils that would stop them from writing. They guaranteed that even the best writers labor to believe in themselves with every project they begin.
In a sorted, dark corner of my being, I yank a fisted hand toward me and cry out, “Yes.”
Not that I wish such pain on anyone, but I refuse to writhe through writer’s block and self-criticism alone. There is comfort in knowing that the malady that leaves me gasping each time I try to connect with my muse is just a part of the writer’s world.
Two foremost demons are often on the prowl. Either monster encompasses most of our fears: rejection, guilt, lack of talent, or any other deficiency or anxiety we can think up.
· Fear of Failure
· Fear of Success
Neither of these demons is easy to tame, and I’m sure a few ominous others have yet to be invented. Or maybe they’ve existed ever since scribes have penned their thoughts, and it’s only a matter of time before we experience them ourselves.
So how do we overcome these ogres, and does only one way exist to beat them down? I like what Michelle Wilson’s husband said, “The only way you’ll fail is if you stop trying.” This is true for whatever endeavor we pursue in our lives. But what about our fear of success? Do we actually sabotage ourselves when we get close to our goals? Personally, I’ve stopped trying to succeed at writing during critical moments when just a little more tenacity would have accomplished my goals. But it doesn’t matter which demon we face. They both stifle us and keep us from moving forward.
Over the last couple of years I have studied the Law of Attraction. The premise of the law is this: All that you are is the result of what you have thought. If you regularly imagine yourself a poor writer, that your critics are right, that you’ll never be published, and that you should quit, your results will mirror the same. In contrast, if you continually believe you are a great writer, poised for publication, and that agents and editors will fight to represent you, those goals will seek to find you.
The key determiner here is what we think about most of the time. Our demons will pester us, that is a given. But we are the designers of our own bright future. If we constantly wield our swords of positive belief, we can chop down negative consequences at the knees. We must choose to fight back. We must choose who we are and where we want to go. A more positive approach is the better thought process.
Henriette Anne Klauser in her book Write It Down, Make It Happen encourages the reader to record whatever they want to occur in their life. If we are writers, why not do what comes naturally and write down positive goals for the projects we pursue? The practice can’t hurt. At least the expected outcome will be clearer. But my guess is if we imagine a great outcome throughout our endeavors, we will come closer to previewing our coming attractions. It won’t be long before we experience a happy ending.
So, repeat after me: I am a great writer. I am a great writer. I am a great… you fill in the blank.