The Monster in Every Writer’s Head
You know how under every kid’s bed is a monster?
Well, I’ll let you in on a little secret. In every writer’s head exists a monster, too…
I’m talking about that hairy, slimy and drooling creature that taps you on the shoulder with its sharp claws as you type.
It’s the one that snarls and stares down at you with its two – or three – googly eyes when you finish a blog post, an article or a book.
It’s the monster that was conceived in a corner of your mind, then grew and grew to the point that it began crowding out all the good thoughts in your head.
Do you recognize this monster yet?
If not, let me introduce it to you. The monster hiding in every writer’s head is called DOUBT.
The monster hiding in every writer’s head is called DOUBT. (Click to Tweet)
And boy, is it scary.
It’s scary enough to stop me in my tracks before I even get a single word written down.
It’s big enough to make me want to scrap whatever I’m working on and start over.
It’s real enough to steal the joy from what I love to do the most – to write and to share my writing with others.
I’ve already had plenty of opportunities in my short time as a writer to practice taming this monster.
And what I’ve learned is:
This monster only has as much power over me as I give it.
I can choose to cower in front of my laptop while it stomps around in my head or I can decide to look it in the eyes, stick my tongue out at it, and prove it wrong.
I think the latter choice is more fun, don’t you?
However, I’ve been having a harder time taming my monster this week, not because I haven’t been able to write, but because I have finished writing.
happy overjoyed to say I have completed my first novel.
When I added the final period to the final sentence of the final chapter of my book, I was ready to cry and dance and shout from the rooftops. I wanted to stick my hands on my hips and say, “Take that!” to my monster for every moment it made me doubt during this whole process of writing.
But the next day while I was telling my girlfriend about finally being able to publish the book and she asked, “So I’ll be able to buy it and read it on my Kindle?”, my monster stood up again and knocked me over with its scaly tail.
“Uh, yes, but you don’t have to read it,” I replied with writer’s doubt coursing through every cell in my body.
Is it strange that I’ve worked so hard on my book, can’t wait to publish it, but don’t want anyone to read it? (I hope I’m not the only one with weird thoughts like this!)
Sure, my monster is trying to mess with my head (and heart) again, but I know it’s doing so in part to protect me from getting hurt. It understands that putting my work out there for anyone and everyone to read can be risky.
It knows how hard it is to self-publish and market a book on your own. It wants to save me from the criticisms and rejections I will likely get.
But these are 3 things that I’m trying to remind my monster, that monster called DOUBT, when it starts to act out:
1) Not everyone will like or agree with my writing and (gulp!) it’s okay.
2) My writing doesn’t have to be perfect.
3) Growing as a writer takes time and each opportunity is a stepping stone to the next one.
So, I hope my monster starts listening and having FAITH in what I’m telling it.
I will likely have to spend a lot of time with it in order to calm it down, but maybe that’s what my monster needs. Someone like Boo who was able to befriend Sulley and Mike in the movie Monsters, Inc.
If she could make nice with some monsters, perhaps I can, too.
What about you? How are you dealing with your monster? Share in the comments.
Join me in congratulating Liwen in the comments. ~Bryan