Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you! Today, I have a guest post from author Linda Ransom and she’s writing today about how to deal with anxiety and self-doubt. Take it away, Linda!
A Post from the (Writing) Trenches
Writing is difficult. What I have found, however, in writing a young adult fantasy trilogy and now moving onto another young adult fantasy series, is that the anxiety and self-doubt that accompany the written word are even harder to manage.
Anxiety and self-doubt are things most writers learn to deal with as they go, but that doesn’t mean those things go away. In fact, they usually get worse the more books you write and publish. This seems odd, you might think, and you’re right – it is odd. I can only speak for myself, and from my own experience, of course; some writers may never feel pressure about their work.
With each book I write and publish, I wonder if it’s good. Will anyone want to read it? What if my characters aren’t compelling enough? What if no one cares about them as much as I do? All of these questions, and countless more, roam randomly through my mind every day. Mind you, sometimes not as loudly as other days – sometimes the questions are mere whispers that I’m able to ignore. Other days, like right now, as I’m writing this, they roar. The doubt and anxiety shriek inside my head so much that I want to go back to bed and never, ever, write again.
What causes the stress and the doubt? Sometimes, it’s bad reviews. More often than not, though, it’s my inner critic. Every writer has one. The IC lives to tell you how terrible you are. It loves to nitpick every single thing you write. On a writer’s best day, she can tell it to be quiet. Or, you know, yell, “SHUT UP!” at it. Those days, it’s easy to believe in yourself and your work. You love your story, your characters.
And then there are the other days. For me, that’s today. My next series, The Traitors’ War, is one I’ve been circling around and working on since 2005. I have numerous notebooks and Pinterest boards devoted to it. I’ve written the first book several times; it’s never been right. But I just finished what is probably the fifth or sixth draft of it (I’ve lost count by now), and it’s good. It’s right.
Or, I thought it was, when I finished it last week (September 5th). Today, when I’m almost a week out from it? The Inner Critic is telling me how bad it really is, how no one would ever want to read it, and that my time spent writing is wasted.
On my best day, I don’t hear my IC. On a good day, a normal day, I can keep its buzzing voice down so it’s not that noticeable. And on a day like today, I just listen to it, because maybe it’s right. Maybe my time would be better spent doing something else, like a reading a book by one of my favorite authors, a writer who knows what she’s doing.
But the thing is, does she? Do any of us who write? Or do they do what I have to do: plow ahead anyway, pretending like they know they’re decent, maybe even good, writers? One can only hope. I know I’m not alone in this struggle with the IC. But even if I am, there’s nothing to be done for it but to keep writing, because I’ve discovered over time that I can’t not write. I can’t let my fantasy world I’ve built up over the last fifteen years waste away out of fear that I’m not good enough for it.
That’s really the root of the thing for me. I love Imperium, my fantasy world, so much, and the people in it, that I’m afraid I’m not the writer it needs. I’m afraid it needs a better, stronger, smarter writer, that it deserves one. But I also believe that stories find the one meant to tell them, too. I believe Imperium came to me because I can handle it. I believe the same of my Flying Ponies trilogy, too. Those antique magical carousel horses and the Flynn family wanted insignificant me to tell their story, and I did, to the best of my ability. Another writer could’ve done it better, I’m sure. I’m still learning my craft. But they chose me, and I’m so glad they did. That was a marvelous adventure, and I know I’ll have many more with The Traitors’ War – if I don’t listen to my Inner Critic.
So what’s a writer to do when the anxiety and self-doubt set in? I think the answer is, it’s different for everyone. Every writer is unique. Every story is different. And your IC is specific to you, too, and the kind of stories you write. Writing all of this down, getting it all out – it helps. Will it help you? I don’t know. But once you find what works for you, what keeps your IC at bay – use it. Do it. Why?
Because no one can tell your story but you.
It’s time for the final round-up. Charlotte Flynn has fought enemies, battled monsters and fallen in love. Now, with the help of Black, Dante and her family and friends, she will face down Penumbra and his herd one last time. Penumbra’s power has grown. Summoning all the loose magic to himself, the dapple-grey has become almost invincible. Only a few Flying Ponies, including Dreadful and Chieftain, can withstand his call. Knowing time is running out, Charlotte and her allies make a stand at a run-down amusement park. There they hope to trap Penumbra and strip away his magic. But little do they realize how truly dark his magic has grown, or how strong. Charlotte will have to unite her family and ally with her enemies if she has any hope of defeating Penumbra and unifying the Flying Ponies for good.
Spin (The Flying Ponies) https://www.amazon.com/dp/1732058849/ref=cm_sw_r_fm_apa_i_mP7zFbKXB3SBP
Lift (The Flying Ponies) https://www.amazon.com/dp/1732058806/ref=cm_sw_r_fm_apa_i_3P7zFb0QC7B2Y
Tilt (The Flying Ponies) https://www.amazon.com/dp/1732058822/ref=cm_sw_r_fm_apa_i_kQ7zFbZWB3F80
Thanks, Linda for being a guest today and sharing your thoughts! It’s greatly appreciated. How about you? How do you deal with your anxiety and self-doubt? Leave a comment! I’d love to hear from you!