Even the most confident authors find themselves plagued by writing monsters and since it is so close to Halloween, I thought it was a good time to identify and then banish some of those creeps.
Here are some of the most common monsters that try to scare us away from writing.
It can be tricky to banish them but being aware of their monsterish nature is the first step to getting rid of them – or at least keeping them quiet for a while. When you learn to recognize them quickly, you will be able to silence them quickly, too.
Redy to identify some writing monsters? Let’s go!
Monster #1: Not Good Enough Monster
This evil scourge is trying to convince you that you shouldn’t be writing anything because you’re not ‘good enough’ yet.
What this monster doesn’t realize is the only way to get better at writing is to keep writing.
You can banish this monster by returning to the page over and over again. And by understanding that you don’t have to get it right on your first try.
You will have infinite opportunities to improve over time and if this monster can’t understand how things work? That’s his problem!
Monster # 2: Not Enough Time Monster
Oh, this monster is a tricky one!
They’ll try to convince you that the only ‘worthwhile’ amount of writing is when you can write for hours at a time.
That’s not true, of course.
This whole site is dedicated to the fact that writing can be done in really, really small chunks. This is especially true in early drafts or when you’re building your skills.
Don’t let this monster scare you. You can banish them by experimenting with short writing sessions. Once you see how much you get done in a few minutes, this monster will have a lot less power.
Monster #3: Comparison Monster
Oh, this monster is a real jerk.
She wants you to compare yourself with published authors. Or with people who have a lot more practice than you or a lot more time than you.
Don’t fall for this monster’s tricks.
Published work has been through many revisions and you cannot compare your first draft, no matter what this monster says.
It’s really not possible to compare your work to anyone else’s. You don’t know how many drafts they did and you don’t know how much time they’ve already spent on it, the Comparison Monster just loves to waste your time like that.
Banish this monster by recognizing that your time is better spent in writing and revising than in comparison. No matter how well anyone else has done (or not done) there are people out there who are waiting for your version of the story. It doesn’t matter how many other people have told similar stories, or whether their writing seems ‘better’ for now. You are the only one with your set of skills and you are the only one who can tell the version that will resonate with your audience.
Monster # 4: Discipline Monster
Oh, this one’s horrible!
The Discipline Monster wants you to believe that writing has to be strictly regimented and that there’s only one way to do it ‘right.’
You can banish this monster by remembering that there are as many ways to write as there are writers. It’s OK for you to write in the way that gets your story told even if your writing is very slow or involves very strange techniques. It doesn’t matter if your writing process requires you to stand on your head, all that matters is that you find a way of writing that works for you.
Monster # 5: This Is Pointless Monster
This monster wants you to stop before you even get started. The This Is Pointless Monster thinks that there are so many successful writers out there that there is no point in even trying. This Is Pointless wants you to believe that if you aren’t a best-selling author on a huge book tour then you might as well quit now.
You can banish this monster by recognizing that your creative expression is about you and about satisfying your need to express yourself, not about external success. Your writing has value in itself, no matter how many people get to read it.
It’s great to have all kinds of goals but we can only control our efforts, not our results. Don’t pay attention when the monster tries to convince otherwise.
We need to keep our focus on what we can control – writing the best we can in the amount of time that we have available. If we are strategic about what we decide to do with that writing afterwards, the monster won’t be so scary any more.
Tomorrow is Halloween and that’s a time when monsters loom large.
These monsters may be taking advantage of the spooky season. If they’re scaring you right now, remember that their time will soon pass.
On November 1, NaNoWriMo starts, marking a month of banishing these monsters by focusing on the process of writing.
Even if you are not participating in NaNoWriMo, you can still borrow the headlong energy of the challenge. The best way to banish monsters is by writing anyway, no matter how they try to scare you.