Have you ever reached for a brownie when you were trying to lose weight? Or stayed in bed when you intended to go to the gym? Or put off paying bills because it was "too much of a hassle"?
There are lots of different ways we sabotage ourselves. This is true of life in general and also true of the writing life.
Writing depends not just on discipline but also on the complicated interplay between what we know and what we feel.
I've worked as an editor for just about 30 years (honest, I was really young when I started), and I've noticed there are five key negative feelings or thoughts that tend to shut down our writing—in much the same way that a circuit breaker shuts down electricity. BOOM and the lights go out.
Often, simply being aware of these thoughts is enough to take away their power. At other times, it's important to challenge them head-on. So let's see which ones are disrupting your writing (and therefore taking a bit of your income) and figure out what you can do about them.
1. I'm a lousy writer; I don't have the talent to do this
This is probably the most common negative thought of all. My theory is it's usually born in high school when writing teachers single out one or two people in the class for praise and use their red pens too liberally with the rest. (To this day, when I'm editing, I make a point of never using red to make suggestions or corrections!) And too much of a focus on grammar and spelling in childhood often mean trouble for the adult writer.
But here's the interesting truth: We're all born lousy marketing writers. The people who become "good" are the ones who are prepared to do the following simple things:
- Read good writing and work to emulate it
- Write a lot—because writing is like exercise: The more you do, the better you get
- Spend double the time on self-editing that they spend on writing