Writers are an interesting bunch of people. Yes from the outside looking in we are creative, but I would argue that we are also ‘head cases’. Why would I say that? Because we LITERALLY spend too much time inside our head. Brainstorming, planning scenes and plots, creating characters who speak to us (and I don’t mean that figuratively). That’s when the ‘good voices’ talk to us.
But we also sometimes have ‘bad voices’ as well. Self-doubt being the largest voice we face. Let me give you an example. This weekend I went to an all-day writer’s workshop led by Margie Lawson. All kinds of good information and ideas on how to make our writing better was shared. All good so far, right? But about mid-afternoon, my brain started rebelling. It started whining, “I’m melting, I’m melting” like the Wicked Witch of the West after Dorothy dumped a bucket of water on her in The Wizard of Oz.
And then all of the excitement of learning new techniques started to twist in my mind and instead of offering me opportunities to improve these suggestions became hurdles to my writing. And the ‘bad voices’ started… “How do you expect to use ALL of this in your writing?” “Wow you have a LOT to learn.” “How are you going to make all of these changes to your 90,000 word, 300+ page novel?” And the voice rattled on.
So how do I shut up this voice? Because ultimately this is one voice I DON’T want to hear in my head. I take a deep breath (actually doing that as I write this) and approach my work, not by scaling Mt. Everest, but by taking a hike in the hills. Take the techniques and apply one or two of them at a time. As my work improves, these changes will hopefully become second nature to me. Then I try some new techniques and so on. Afterall improving is something I need to do with my writing in order to publish and continue publishing in this very competitive business. So it’s time to suck it up and give the ‘bad voices’ the boot.