Peggy Bechko: Writers vs. The Demon Named Negativity

by Peggy Bechko

There’s a whole lot of psychological stuff associated with being a writer. Fear of failure, fear of success, fear of not being good enough and a host of other self-defeating head games we might play with ourselves. But of them all, probably the worst is some kind of self-sabotage. And self-sabotage can be hiding in a lot of places. It’s kinda tricky to pin down.

One time where it gets drawn out of hiding is when the intrepid writer decides to offer his or her work to the world. First of all, that’s a big step. There are many writers who hide their work away. Some never let it see the light of day. But, for those who do, they’re frequently confronted with the “I’m not good enough” syndrome.

Part of that writer, and I think we’ve all been there, knows darn well he’s possessed with the skills and talent to create amazing worlds. To tell stories in a powerful way. And yet, there’s that other part of the born storyteller, the part that tries to convince her she can’t possibly succeed. Not really. She’s not worthy, not a good writer of novels or scripts or whatever, not really.

It’s a bummer. And, the inner critic who just won’t shut up can eventually paralyze the unwary writer.

It’s up to the determined and talented writer to put a stop to all that. When that inner critic attacks, it’s time to pause and consider. What if (we all love ‘what if’ don’t we?) that inner critic is full of it you, the writer, can retort. What if what you’ve written is bestseller material or a movie blockbuster script? Hmmm. That ‘what if’ is just as plausible as the one that tries to make you think you’re not worthy. Talk back to that inner fear-monger and tell him/her/it to shut up.

And here’s another thing. Are you selfish? Yeah, I know, our mothers taught us to share, to give of ourselves, our time, our money, whatever, and to put others ahead of ourselves. Women are even more restrained by this idea of a ‘good girl’ than a man is hindered by being unselfish.  Now, here’s another aspect. Writers, generally are intuitive, sensitive, and very conscious of the world around them. As writers, we frequently find ourselves in situations where we just naturally give. And all that is good.

But, we need to be a little selfish, to preserve chunks of ourselves to allow for great writing. We need to teach ourselves that it’s okay to say no and to set boundaries. It’s not possible for a person to always put themselves last and to have something left over to actually pursue things important to them.

The “everybody comes first” attitude means that the writer is left with the very least. There’s little writing time allowed. Errands not really our own consume energy needed for great thinking. If, as a writer, you’re not being selfish enough to let others around you know your inner resources are limited and you must put a stop to those many demands that sap all energy, creativity and time, then you’ll be left with nothing.

The solution is both difficult and simple. Difficult because of our little inner voices that complain when we decide to do something hard like saying no, but as simple as just saying that no. Keep in mind that tending to your own needs isn’t a negative thing. You’re not a ‘bad’ person because you say no and speak up for what you need.

Work at becoming conscious of what you’re doing and directly fend off psychological traps. Nurture your creativity and yourself.

Finally, I’ll give a little wave and a nod toward that all-time favorite of writers – procrastination. Come on now, we’ve all been guilty of it. Nothing eats up writing time like it. I’m not going into a long definition and all the details of self-help. You know what you’re doing when you’re doing it. So stop it. Focus. Write.

My advice after all this? Take a few moments to really analyze what you do, then take definite action to fend those psychological demons off.

You can do it and your writing will soar because you did.

Peggy Bechko is a TVWriter™ Contributing Editor. Learn more about her sensational career HERE. Peggy’s new comic series, Planet of the Eggs, written and illustrated with Charlene Brash-Sorensen is available on Kindle. And, while you’re at it, visit the Planet of the Eggs Facebook page and her terrific blog.