29 July

Dear Book Writer, Just Say STOP...



A pretty big, small word.

It warns us of impending danger ahead, to pause, look around our space, and be on alert, and only after we see the coast is clear, do we move on.

The voice inside your head is the dangerous one. It keeps whispering why you cannot write on your book today. Umpteen different reasons, excuses, colorful pastimes that your voice mumbles in your ear...

"I can't write today. I have to do ___."

"Writing? Now? Are you kidding! ____ is waiting for me." 

"Oh, yes, I was going to write, and then ___ happened, and I couldn't."

Blah-dee-blah, blah, blah.... yatta, even...

The Key: Have you asked yourself the REAL question? Is my brain a danger to me?

Sure, the flip side to that argument is your brain is trying to protect you from danger ahead, from committing mistakes or being laughed by your book readers. But do those dangers really exist? Could it be your Ego whispering to you, niggling at you to stop being a fool by writing on that book, instead of your reasoned mind?

A writer, like anyone undertaking any métier, has to judge what a) is a real danger, and b) when to STOP for what.

If your inner voice is a danger to you by offering up a plethora of excuses not to write, then you need to sit up, plaster on a stern expression, and say out loud, and with conviction, to your fearful self, "STOP, just STOP IT."

This audible trick works. It tells your Ego to shush it, to go back into its narcissistic cave and be quiet already, as you have legitimate work to do.

On occasion, I've needed to express this order to myself when my Ego rears its ugly head and tries to stop me from producing. Right now, I have a huge list of new book projects, and tickling my brain is that evil-doer, whispering in my ear why it's much safer not to open my laptop and add more words to those manuscripts. But soon enough,

  • I literally get fed up with that whispered BS.
  • I sit up.
  • And I say out loud, "STOP IT. Just STOP."

Those spat out words jar my psyche to realign my definition of danger, to ascertain there isn't any, so I can move forward, open up my laptop, and start writing again.

Sooner or later, you, like me, will have to contend with those opposing forces — the Ego and the Writing Mind. No shrink in the world can tell me those two are one and the same. They are not. It's a Battle Royale to the finish with each manuscript. 

The Bad News: That Ego beast never completely goes away. It lurks, lays in wait, breathing heavily... (frig).

The Good News: Your Writer Mind gets stronger, and wins more battles over your Ego, the more you write (yay!).

MY ongoing battle:

  • My Ego is all up in my grill because it doesn't want to be seen as anything but perfect to the outside world. Pathetic Ego.
  • My Writer Mind KNOWS I've written well before, many times, so realistically I'll write well again. Cheers, for the mature me!

As a new book writer, you have to come to this realization yourself, that you are fighting a foe that's only in your imagination. And with each new book project, it will whisper again to you to do anything but write on that manuscript. The bigger, more mature, adult you must stop that Ego monster in its tracks by simply saying out loud, "STOP." It will hear that word, finally shut up with the excuses, so you can move to open your much-abandoned laptop or notebook.

HOMEWORK: Try this small exercise the next time you hear your Ego whispering to you. Try it TODAY, TONIGHT, if instead of writing on your manuscript, you end up:

  • doing laundry 
  • vacuuming
  • playing video games
  • Facebook scrolling
  • fishing lint out of your navel.
You'll be amazed what your mature mind can do, say, to get you to stop for the real danger — that lazy lout, Monster Ego — and instead move forward on your book. 

P. S. It's okay to give your Ego a name. Mine is called Barbarella. She's a hot mess and leaves a wake of trouble everywhere she goes... 
Before I sat down to write this article, I fed her a dose of  ZzzQuil. She's snoring contently. ;-)

No comments: