We all have it. None of us want it. What do we do with it? (A little Buffet-inspired intro to start your read here.)
One of the things I’ve been chatting with other authors recently about is that dreaded Voice Within. Or as I call it, the Evil Voice Within. You know it. The one that takes your self-doubt, insecurity, worry, fear, whatever that go-to negative emotion is, and makes it a fire-breathing dragon.
A real, live dragon, who’s in a bad mood, snarky, and rampaging around in your head.
I want to evict the %)^$@^&%, but he always finds his way back.
Why is that? We’re doing something amazing. Contrary to popular belief, not everyone can write a book. Most of us can start, and get part way through, but finishing the thing? That’s a feat. I should know. My thumb drives are littered with sizable works that are not done. Writing it is only the first part of the whole thing.
Then, one must finish it. After it’s finished, you really need to read the thing again. For content. To see if it’s something you want to let out into the world. To see if you need to take your hacksaw and weed-wacker and do shaping and pruning. To see if you love it when you read it, or if you cringe. Hint: If you cringe, you don’t need to trash it. You may need to just leave it for a bit, and then come back and do some revising.
All along the way of the aforementioned journey, you have to listen to Mr. Snarky Dragon. Telling you all his stuff and nonsense, tossing in his one liners when you’re least expecting it.
So how to get around him? Everyone, no matter what you do, occasionally comes up against that dragon. I think authors have a particularly assy dragon, but I’m willing to admit possessing a bias.
Here’s how you do it. You ignore it. Tell it to )%$^#%^ off. Go read a good review. Go look at your latest craft book (folks, you need to be reading them. I am the worst about actually doing it, and now that I have, I am kicking myself for dragging my feet before).
Plan out your next marketing campaign. Then go and visit the social media of your author friends. Talk about their awesome cover, or let them know what you loved about their book. Discuss ways to market, talk about how to ramp up something for the holidays.
See where I’m going with this?
Own that you occasionally give Snark Dragon space in your head, and then move on. Know that you can and will be successful, and it will probably take some time. It’s also going to take work. Hard work. Sadly, I’ve yet to meet any authors who have that lovely cabana boy offering them grapes with nimble fingers and an adoring gaze. Or if they do have one, they’re being verrrrry low-key about the whole thing.
We can all aspire to a pool boy, so to speak. We just need to get our minds around it.
But Lisa, you cry. I love me a good Ryan meme, but that’s a meme! I see no Ryan, nor any grapes! And certainly not peeled grapes.
Here’s what I do:
If I’m frustrated with a particular work, I walk away from it. I leave it to simmer on its own, and I go do something else. At this exact moment, I have a WIP I’m writing, another WIP I work on when I’m tired of WIP #1, and I am outlining a new series. So if I get caught up and stuck, I have something else to do. Not everyone can work on more than one project at a time, so if you can’t, get out of your chair, and go for a walk. Take the dog. Go look at nature. Hang out with your kids. If you feel you MUST be doing something, get a digital recorder, and talk out your story issues. Sounds silly, but it works. I also find if I’m stuck, a long shower helps. I think a lot in the shower. It’s relaxing.
If I find that my book sales are not where I want them, I go and look at what others in my genre are doing. Not to give SD ammo, but I want to see if they’re doing something I’m not, and ought to be. I am an avid reader of promo threads – forum threads where people write up their marketing plan for a set period of time, and then report on it. Reading the successes and challenges of others not only gives me ideas, but it reminds me I’m not alone on this journey. That’s important for us.
I said it earlier, but go read a craft book. I am a dedicated pantser. I don’t like to plot – or at least, I didn’t think I did. However, I’m reading a lot about increasing your output, and all the people I see who are doing it right, and creating success are doing so while using some pre-writing organization. So it’s worth considering, in my opinion. It can help you to get out of the corners we sometimes paint ourselves into.
Finally, I realize that no matter how much I love this career, I’m going to have some off days. That there are going to be times when it’s just going to be sucky. I am more thin-skinned than I ever realized, but putting myself out there as an author is forcing me to toughen up. To know that I am doing the best I can, that I don’t see this as a scheme, but as a long term career where I wish to put out commercial quality content for essentially the rest of my life. And that the one day where Snarky Dragon gets free range head space with me – it’s ONE DAY.
So kick your dragon back to his cave, and know that you’re on the right path. Even if it turns out not to be the right path in the long run – that’s the beauty of being a writer, and an indie writer in particular. We can change. We can shift focus. We can adapt.
And we will succeed.
Now go write.