If you’re a creative person, then at some point you’ll meet my little bitch of a friend self-doubt. Meeting her is as inherent as the need to play God and cackle as you kill another darling.
Self-doubt really is the queen bee of inefficiency, procrastination and pointlessness. Frankly, she makes Trump seem useful… did I? Lets move on before I offend anyone with something more than just my potty mouth.
I’ve talked about self-doubt before and given four suggestions to beat it. But like anything, as you grow and develop as a writer, you find new tricks to make you better and more efficient.
Writing is always likened to running a marathon. It’s great analogy because personally, I’ve well and truly hit the 18 mile wall. But even if I have to chew my kneecaps off in a bid to keep my arse in the proverbial chair, I will hand my sodding book-baby to beta readers on 30th September. But fuck me, the universe is not making it easy.
So here are some awesome techniques I’ve been using that you can implement to get you and your book to completion without having to gnaw body parts off.
SECRET 1 – Goal set and work backwards
I’ll get the obvious two out the way. I know it’s an age old concept, setting goals, but seriously kids… If you don’t set yourself a clear goal, with a clear deadline, how in the shittle sticks do you know what you need to achieve between now and d-day?
I set a deadline of 30th September. That means (from the date I set it) I have until 15th August to finish re-drafting. As I write this I have 47,000 words near enough completed. That means I need to write 25k (plus/minus 10k – I am not setting a strict word count the story ends when it ends) between now and the 15th, thats 3 weeks. An average of 5-8000 words a week. Not an easy task, but one I can do with a bit of reprioritising. (No social life, fuck loads of coffee and no sleep. Easy. *ahem*)
I need to edit said 25k during the last two weeks of August and then do a full (final) read through during the first two weeks of Sept – giving me 2 weeks slippage time.
That’s lot of mini deadlines to meet. If I hadn’t set a clear goal with deadlines I wouldn’t know what I was doing or when it needed doing by. And shit would slip into I’ll just watch another episode of blah blah and do it at five past never-never.
SECRET 2 – Track Progress
Okay, you’re either going to love this or hate it. It works for me, but it ain’t going to tickle everyone’s tummy fluff.
Even if this doesn’t work for you, find another way. There’s no point setting goals if you aren’t going to monitor progress towards them.
A few weeks ago, I had a geek out moment that would put Stephen Hawking to shame. After a minor meltdown on the phone to Suzie, I realised I needed to track progress, with pretty glitter and colour changing boxes. With a bit of conditional formatting, I made a spreadsheet, with among other things, boxes that change according to the number of words I write per week. As you can see, last week was green, yay me. This week as yet, is amber… clearly I need to stop fucking about on wordpress and crack my own self-flaggelating whip.
SECRET 3 – Accountability Partner
I stole this from a podcast. But in essence, you don your most pretentious writing cap and duly request the assistance of a fellow writer. One, you don’t mind calling you out on your bullshit.
Allie Potts, is mine.
There are two kinds of accountability partner. I suggest you find one that best suits your needs:
A) The softly-softly, stroke my hair and whisper me sweet sonnets for encouragement.
B) The no bullshit, no fucking about, drop and give me twenty for missing your target, bitch.
I’ll let you take a guess which one I am.
How does it work? Set your goals, set a deadline and then demand results. Communicate about twice a week demanding updates. If progress isn’t satisfactory, you better make damn sure you have a good reason.
The other handy thing is, when you set a goal, they then push you to achieve even more, by say, making you up your target by 10%… oh and they expect you to deliver!
SECRET 4 Stop asking everyone else
No one gives a shit about your book. They’re all too busy trying to write their own books. (Okay, not quite true. Writerly friends do care, but the point’s valid).
Every time you seek reassurance from someone else, you’re subconsciously telling yourself you’re not good enough.
Stop it. It’s really annoying. As annoying as the guy at work that plays an operatic symphony every lunch using only his teeth, tongue and three day old spag bol.
SECRET 5 – Writing Tribe
Okay, now ignore what I just said because ultimately everyone needs a bitch now and then. I have a message group with two writers. Three seems to be the magic number because when there’s three, one is always having a good day. When someone is down, there’s two others to perk you up, or tell you shut the fuck up. Whatever’s needed!
It’s also supremely motivational. When you scroll through the messages and see that your writing buds have written 6000 words and 800 blog posts you soon pull your finger out. Suzie has a great post on tribes, here.
SECRET 6 Ask yourself if your self-doubt is realistic?
Have you done something similar in a competent way before? If so, you know that you’re being a pissy little bitch and need to hush your gums.
If you’re doubting yourself because you’re about to do something new, ask yourself why you’re doing it?
Is it because you’re a writer and need to push yourself out your comfort zone? Are you doing it for family, love or friends? Or are you doing it because it will help you achieve your goal? If any of the above are true, stop doubting and get the fuck on with it.
When is self doubt okay? Feel free to doubt yourself when you’re standing on the precipice of a 1000ft drop off a sheer cliff face into a bed of volcanic lava and poisonous snake venom. If it’s even remotely related to your book, pick up your fucking pen up and stop whining.
SECRET 7 Mantras & Affirmation
Miracle mornings are all the rage at the moment. Wake up earlier, do a bunch of positive
shit, and feel good. For me, the finger of God herself couldn’t get me up an hour earlier. I have been a night owl from the moment daddies sperm hit mummies egg an I popped into miraculous existence.
But – the point is a good one.
Every time I complete another day in work, its a bloody miracle. A miracle that I acknowledge and thank the universe for at 4pm on the dot. There will come a day when I live the dream and can write all day everyday, but until then I will stick with my mantras and affirmations.
There is one other daily affirmation that I make. Every time I look in the mirror, (and I do mean every time) whether it be, while painting my eyebrows on in the morning, or washing my hands after a wee, I affirm my goal.
I tell myself that one day, I will sell enough books that I can quit the grind and write full time. I tell myself that I know this is true, because I will make it so.
What do you do when you hit the novel wall? How do you smash it down and complete a book? Let me know in the comments below.
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