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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.