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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Writing Jitters: Slay the Beast, Unleash the Writer!

They happen to the best of us. 

Well, they happen to me at least.

One minute your are tapping the keys fast and furious style, talking to yourself about how awesome your writing is and how clever you are.

And the next...
You're staring at the screen.
Bleary eyed, jaw-dropped, thinking, "This is sh..tuff."

Call it what you will- performance anxiety, writer's block, creative constipation, but the writing jitters are real!  They are scary!  And they can be detrimental!

Tossing the pen down for a few hours is one thing, but not being able to pick it up again is something very different.  It happens.

But why?

Lack of confidence.  It is the enemy.

You must slay it!

But how?

Good question.

If I knew the answer I'd be working on my novel instead of whining about the jitters on my blog!  Okay, that's not helpful, is it?  Let's investigate it together, shall we?

Writing Jitters strike me most often when my work is going to be read by people I actually know.  Being the anonymous voice behind the blog is fine, you don't know every reader intimately, and somehow that makes it more comfortable.  Even if they don't like what they read and never come back again... it's okay.  You don't have to face them.  You're not likely to run into them at the Piggly Wiggly and wonder if they're whispering about your horrible writing to the cashier.  It's almost an out of sight out of mind relationship.

Knowing your neighbor, your circle of friends, and worse-- your mother (gasp!) are reading brings the blood pressure on up.  Suddenly, the bar has been raised.  Those same people that look at you suspiciously and ask, "Finished that book yet?" are now reading, weighing, and talking about your writing.  The horror. The horror.

The most nerve-wracking of all, for me personally, is when you have a circle of friends who are writers, not just the plain ol' everyday variety of writers, but really, really good writers, that are out there... reading  (heart rate rising), finding typos you missed (sweat beading on forehead), measuring your ability to be engaging, hook the reader, and spin a good tale (full-fledged panic attack to commence in 3...2...1...).

Truly horrifying.

I'm there.  Oh, I am soooo there.  This week, on Thursday to be exact, my very first contribution to the Blue Monkey Writers Blog will publish.  Go live.  For millions (hey it doesn't hurt to dream) to read.  Among the guaranteed readers?  My friends.  Fellow writers.  Really, really good writers.  The Blue Monkeys.

For those of you scratching your heads, (or other body parts I don't want to speculate on), the "Blue Monkeys" are a group of writers that were privileged and blessed to attend a writing conference like no other-- The Ragged Edge.  "RE" as we monkeys call it, was hosted by Ted Dekker (yes the Ted Dekker) and he brought his friends, the Tosca Lee, the Robert Liparulo, the Eric Wilson, and the Steven James.  Now, if these writer's (species: Genius) names don't ring a bell, you've been living under a rock and need to go straight to an internet search engine (or just to my "writers connection" page on my website) and get edu-ma-cated, like now!

But I digress...

The pressure of knowing that my tribe of Blue Monkeys will be reading has been immense.

Now, you might be thinking "Who cares?", or "What's the big deal?", or "Did I pay my water bill this month?" (let's hope it's not the last one, if so, I am more full of sh...tuff than I realized).

Well, there is a point to this rambling bit of wisdom.

How will I ever hand over my finished manuscript to be evaluated, dissected, and likely rejected numerous times by the powers that be... when I can't turn in a single blog post to a group of friends without having a panic-attack?

Clearly, I must work on my self confidence.

I have to know in my heart that I am a writer.  A good writer.  I'm not going to be able to please everyone.  Not everyone is going to love what I've written.  And, I have to be okay with that.  If I can't learn how to do that... then I am doomed.  Rejection letters will come.  I cannot melt down and quit after the first one.

Think of the greatest writer you know, the best book you've ever read.

Now go Google it.  Look and see how many times the writer received a rejection letter.

I'll give you an example: Gone With The Wind.  A best-seller, that has sold over 30 million copies.

Margaret Mitchell received 38 rejection letters.  That's right, 38 publishers rejected Gone With The Wind.  You know, she wrote back, "Frankly..."  Okay, probably not.  But the point is, she likely said to herself, "Frankly, I don't give a damn!" and kept submitting her work.  Why? Because she knew it was good.  She believed it was best-seller good.

We all have to believe in ourselves that much. This is good.  This is best-seller good.

Delusional? Perhaps, but it wouldn't be the only delusion writers suffer from.  A much worse and more harmful delusion is, "This is sh...tuff".

So, what kind of writer are you?  Are you the delusional best-seller?  Or the delusional quitter?

Wait, am I actually encouraging you to be delusional?  Why yes, yes I am.

Have you ever heard of self-fulfilling prophecy?

If you think lack of confidence is dangerous, just wait!

If you keep saying something long enough, you will begin to believe it.  If you tell yourself every day, "I really suck at writing.  I better not quit my day job."  Guess what?  You are eventually going to suck at writing and be stuck with that day job.  I hope you like it.

Tell yourself, every day, multiple times a day, "I am a writer.  I am a great writer."

Now, believe it!


I'm off to work on that.  You should too, but before you go...

Tell me:

What causes your writing jitters? 
What do you find to be your most stress-inducing reader group? 
How do you handle your jitters?

1.  Comment below, and I'll pick a random winner on Tuesday, October 30. 
2.  Come back again, and comment after reading my first post on the Blue Monkey Writers Blog on Thursday the 25th, and tell me what you thought of it, and receive an extra entry for the random drawing.

 © 2011-2012 DM Kilgore
All right reserved

Up for grabs:

By New York Times' best-selling author and international speaker Cecil Murphey: The "must-have" resource for every writer. Who You Are Determines What You Write. You have unique stories to tell the world, teachings and words that will inspire and encourage others. So what are you waiting for? It's time to unleash that writer within. This isn't your average writing book, with guilt-inducing lists of "how-to's" in your search to become a writer...or a better writer. Instead, internationally renowned and beloved writer Cecil Murphey walks as a companion alongside as you: *Discover who you are. *Develop your voice and writing style. *Learn to write with heart. *Become authentic to your readers. *Grapple with the dreaded "Writer's Block" (it's not the deadly monster it seems). *Harness the inner critic (and a few outer ones too). *Expand your comfort zone. "We need to continue improving our writing skills, but in the process, we can't forget who we are. If we do, our voices become lifeless. The words may sound beautiful, but they won't express our true selves."-Cec Murphey. New York Times' best-selling author and international speaker Cecil (Cec) Murphey has written or co-written more than 120 books, including the runaway bestseller 90 Minutes in Heaven (with Don Piper) and Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story (with Dr. Ben Carson). His books have sold millions of copies, been translated into more than 40 languages, and brought hope and encouragement to countless people around the world.


Stephanie Pazicni Karfelt said...

Wait. What was the question? I'm stuck on the millions who read the Blue Monkey Blog. I thought it was bazillions. The visual of Margaret Mitchell doing the whole, "Frankly my dear..." just had me rolling. Thank you for that.
Am pretty sure that you can have a melt down and quit after every single rejection - for at least an hour. Then go edit it again. (Betcha even Margaret Mitchell made some edits between rejection #1 and #38.)
When I get jitters now, it is because I'm worried that I will soon be re-editing something for the eleventeenth or the gazillionth time. (I'm very mathy.)
And this is how I handle rejection. There are three stacks for them in The Glitter Globe. 1) Study their comments and implement them. 2) Resubmit to this person again after I accomplish (whatever they require) or 3) When this person comes to my book-signings in the future, I will lick the top of their cupcake when they're not looking, and smile a lot.

DM Kilgore said...

LOL I'm taking notes! Great advice on what to do with rejections. Thanks for commenting. I'm now rolling with you. ;)

Linnette R Mullin said...

My bulk of my jitters have been defined on the Blue Monkey Writing blog ~ the Blue Monkey Blues post on October 2nd. Mainly that I'll prove to be a fraud. So I wrote a couple books and on my third. Can I really pull another full blown novel out of my head? It's scary! What if I can't? Disappointing my readers and disappointing myself, the very thought of it gives me jitters!

Great post, Donna! I think it's proof that you can write. This is very good quality writing. Good job, Blue! :D

Linnette R Mullin said...

LOL!!! Stephanie! Too funny! Know the top of their cupcake... LOL.........

Anonymous said...

Donna, I looved this post mainly because I think you are not the only one who deals with this feeling... I have been dealing with this the past week. And I just realized it more when I entered a contest.... MY story was out there for the world to read and inside I was screaming... thinking... will people actually like it? Am I a good writer? Could I win? So yes, I think my jitters are when my writing besides my blog goes live to a big audience. I think it's a fear of failure, maybe. But you are correct! It is the enemy! :)

Your points were all very helpful! :)

DM Kilgore said...

Ah, Linnette. I think you will have more trouble keeping those stories in your head than pulling them out. I love your writing. I cannot wait to read your novels. Life changing romance is right up my alley! The Blue Monkey Blues was a great post- but you can definitely write... and you should!

Thank you so much for the kind words, the encouragement, and for stopping by to read and comment!

DM Kilgore said...

Thank you Devin. I voted for your story. Creepy fantastic! I'm glad you found the post helpful, but I know you well enough to know... you can and will defeat the beast! Keep writing!

Thank you for stopping by and commenting! =)

DM Kilgore said...

CONGRATULATIONS TO LINNETTE MULLIN! You have won the random drawing and a copy of "Unleash The Writer Within!" =)

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