Does this sound familiar?
“How do I get out of my own way and just write?”
“I’m scared of publishing in the big book world.”
“Nothing I have in my head is original–just a different version of what someone else came up with.”
“What if people hate it?”
Not gonna lie. Writing a book is scary.
Every single writer and aspiring writer I know suffers from fear and self-doubt, even the ones hitting the lists and making lots of money. We all have that inner voice, the one telling us we’re not good enough, our idea sucks, no one will read it, anyone who does will hate it, and we’ll be smote with a thousand one-star reviews that will hurt our sensitive artist feelings.
Or maybe your inner voice says things like this: “I can’t write a book because I don’t have time/money/a college degree/an original idea/a clue how to get started.”
Either way, this negative voice in your head is the ghost in the room, and it’s preventing you from doing something you really want to do. So we’re going to get rid of it.
But first, we’re going to thank it.
Stay with me here.
Your ghost isn’t your enemy. It doesn’t hate you. In fact, your ghost LOVES you. It’s trying to protect you from many difficult things: hard work, less free time, annoyed family and friends who want your attention, people who think you’re crazy, internet trolls who like being mean, legitimate negative reviews from people who just didn’t connect with your story or writing style, readers who don’t like romance but thought they’d read your romance anyway and give it a one-star review because it’s a romance and they don’t like romance… you name it. There are lots of potential pain points in becoming an author, and your ghost wants to wrap its arms around you and shield you from all of them.
Here’s what my ghost says to me: “You’re not creative enough. Your logical, analytical brain isn’t the right kind of mind that’s good at writing something emotional like romance. And you’re not fast enough. Look at all your friends writing 5K words a day and putting out 8-10 books a year. Some days you barely manage 300 words. You’ve had some luck, but that’s all it was–luck. Now you’re just faking it.”
And the thing is, my ghost KNOWS me. It knows exactly what to say to get me to stop typing and go get the ice cream or fold laundry or work out or do pretty much anything to avoid my WIP. It knows how to prevent me from setting tough goals and following through.
It offers me GOOD REASONS not to write–and believe me, there is always a good reason. It gives me EXCUSES not to write. It provides PERKS, such as more free time, less anxiety, no danger of hurt feelings, no stress about failure. It lures me into thinking I will feel safer and comfier and much better about myself if I just listen to it.
These things are what Jen Sincero calls “false rewards” in her awesome book that I highly recommend reading for getting in the right mindset: YOU ARE A BADASS. (I own this in ebook, paperback, and audiobook.)
But that ghost has to go, because I’ve got books I want to write.
And so do you.
So here’s what you do.
- Acknowledge your ghost. Don’t try to pretend it isn’t there–it’s there. You both know it. Give it a moment of your time.
- Write down what it’s saying to you. List at least three things.
- For each item you listed, write down the PERK it offers you, the “false reward” you get for believing it.
- Thank your ghost sincerely for trying to protect your feelings, then firmly tell it to go wait outside while you crush some words. (Or better yet, bid that goblin au revoir forever!)
5. Finally, replace those negative things with three positive things. (Here are mine: “I am creative. I love the way I feel when I’m writing. It is a gift to be able to make people feel something.”)
Once your ghost is out of the room, you open up that laptop or notebook and get going.
You’ve got a story to tell, and YOU are the only one who can tell it.