The “Writer’s Digest” second annual “Big 10” issue is out. Chock full of literary 10-fers — including “10 Ways to Harness Fear and Fuel Your Writing” and “10 Great Travel Destinations for Writers” — the September 2011 issue keeps you on all ten toes and, in typical WD style, doesn’t disappoint. A thorough read-through leaves this writer excited about writing projects already underway, anxious to read some of the 10 debut novels highlighted in the issue and encouraged to revive neglected storylines. However, what holds me back is not a lack of resources or motivating material, but classic self-sabotage. I’ve determined to identify my top ten obstacles to being the writer I want to be . . . and to name myself as the responsible party holding me back.
Self-sabotage tactic number . . .
- Popping popcorn. It’s true . . . when my mind drifts from the writing project at hand, it drifts to popcorn. And I think I know why. It gives me an excuse not to type. After all, who wants salt and butter on an expensive keyboard?
- Fear of failure. Cliché, I know, but for a darn good reason. No writer wants to get a rejection letter. Or worse still . . . no response at all . . .
- Writer envy. Enough said.
- Fantasies. Before I actually wrote for a living, I envisioned writing as a sort of non-laborious, fun, artsy, nonchalant and relaxing — yet dignified — way to earn a living. I still harbor that ideal, so it sometimes feels as though I must be doing something wrong.
- Isolation. I move from a blue office to my screened porch to a comfy corner on the couch, seeking an ideal place where the words flow freely onto the page or the computer screen. But I rarely leave my house. Although taking the liberty to loafer might make for a good number 11 on my self-sabotage list, I think that surely an occasional writer’s conference or literary convention could open up doors for me or at least expose me to other writers with similar goals.
- Networking . . . which includes looking up cool quotes to post on facebook, checking my email multiple times in a 30-minute period, checking my blog stats, etc.
- Pain . . . real or imagined. It’s true that when I write about such things as the symptoms of a specific vitamin deficiency, I start to notice those symptoms in myself. I begin to think . . . “you know . . . I might have a B-12 deficiency since I’m a vegetarian.” I do feel fatigued and have problems concentrating, after all. Aside from hypochondria, my knees really do hurt, most likely from sitting for so long. My back and my “sits bones” ache sometimes, especially if I fail to take 10 to 15 minute walking breaks on the hour.
- Ignorance. Yes, I admit it. There are so many things I don’t know about how to make it as a writer. I didn’t take the classic journalism route and I didn’t start until later in life, which brings me to number . . .
- Excuses. If creativity fails to seep into my writing, it never fails to creep into my subconscious, telling me that I’m not cut out for this. Since I’m writing right now, my creative juices are frozen, putting me at a loss for naming specific excuses. I’m too tired to think right now. After I finish my popcorn, I may be able to organize this line of thought. All the good examples have been taken. I really wish I could think of a good excuse, but I can’t seem to wrap my brain around one.
- Settling. The first niche I found has become my comfort zone. Even though I know my work is print-worthy, I haven’t ventured into print media. I also haven’t consistently worked on my novel. I have, in essence, made myself dependent on online content, secretly — and perhaps subconsciously — hoping to be discovered quite by accident.
In self-discovery fashion . . .
~The Rookie Writer
(photo compliments of Carlos Porto @ freedigitalphotos.net)