The Psychological Potholes
Some of the biggest obstacles for authors are all in their head. Psychologically speaking, of course. You are going along just fine on the Writing Road, then BAM! One of your tires hits a pothole and jars you into rethinking your path. Let me introduce you to a few of them. Not all. Everyone has their own personal pothole material. These are some that seemed the most obvious.
Guilt. We live such busy lives. So many demands on our time…family, friends, work, life. We end up putting ourselves and our dreams last. When we do put our foot down and demand ‘me’ time, we often deal with resistance. The most used tactic is guilt. And it works.
So how do we get past guilt? You have to see the resistance for what it is…manipulation. If it is a genuine need, fine, go deal with it. If it is just whining to get their way, then set boundaries. You deserve to have say in your own life.
Fear. Gut-wrenching, nail-biting, antacid gulping fear. We all know it and hate it. When we experience fear, our system kicks into fight or flight response. Tackle it head on or freak out and run.
A friend of mine recently went to a writer’s conference. There was a hefty case of nerves prior to departure but she was prepared. Her pitch practiced to perfection, she took a deep breath…and succeeded beautifully. As it turned out it wasn’t nearly as scary as she originally thought. She tackled her fear head on and won.
Self-doubt. A cousin to fear, it is the gnawing uncertainty of whether you have the ‘it’ that publishers and readers are looking for. I face it every time I start a new book. This is when a good support system does wonders. If you don’t have it with family, find in in writer’s groups, local or online. OurWriteSide Word Mafia (Italian for family) is a good place to start. Avoid groups that are ‘do it our way or else’, put you or anyone else down, or spare the constructive criticism. Constructive is the main theme. We all learn by failing and trying again. Or as Edison put it:
Impatience. Those 10,000 ways that don’t work take time. Impatience may cause us to skip steps, edit less, and make decisions without enough research. There are no shortcuts. You put in the time. You put in the work. You get the results.
Self-sabotage. The deadliest of all psychological potholes. It takes the others, bundles them all together, and turns them into a massive sinkhole.
I watched a Porsche dealership all but disappear from a sinkhole when I lived in Orlando. They are voracious in their appetite. Everything goes in and very little, if anything, ever comes out.
I have also watched writers fall prey to their internal demons. It isn’t pretty. The worst part is many show great promise but they simply cannot get out of their own way.
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When you start listening to the negative voices in your own mind, you begin digging the hole. It can be stopped and filled in but the negativity has to be turned around. Believe in yourself. If you can’t, then believe in the opinions of others who do believe in you.
My favorite motto is Credendo Vides. By believing, one sees. May you believe in yourself and see your dreams become real.