Yesterday, we admitted, that as writers, we often feel insecure. Today, we look at what to do about it.
I got certified as a Rational Emotive Therapist back when I was an addictions counselor. RET focuses on what we tell ourselves and uses some unconventional approaches to get people to feel differently.
One technique is to examine what you’re telling yourself about your writing. If you’re feeling insecure about your work, you are probably running statements like this through your head:
If my work isn’t good, then I’m no good as a person.
If people think my work stinks, that would be awful and I couldn’t stand it.
I absolutely MUST have everyone’s approval under ALL circumstances!
If my work is not fantastically great, then I shouldn’t write anything.
All of these statements in your head are usually demands and repeated forcefully, no matter how irrational they are. Take time to challenge them by asking yourself:
If a particular piece I write sucks more than an , all that says is I wrote a shitty piece. It doesn’t mean I’m a shit of a person.
If , indeed, I write something shitty would that REALLY be awful? It might suck for a little while, but really only if I tell myself it will. It’s never awful–at most it might be a pain in the ass. There might actually be some good things to learn from writing bad.
Is it realistic to think EVERYONE is going to like your stuff? Getting EVERYONE’S approval and affection really is a weird goal and a huge waste of time, isn’t it?
If you love writing why not write no matter how bad you suck? Anything worth doing is worth doing poorly–if you love doing it. Why deprive yourself because of the need for approval?
You can practice getting over your insecurity by deliberately writing poorly and sharing it with critical friends. It’s called shame-attacking. It works like this: Write something really bad, share it and wait for the criticism. When it comes practice disputing your irrational beliefs.
You’ll find you can live through your fears and that it isn’t awful at all to write something bad.
If you’re not willing to actually be bad, you can visualize being shitty. Instead of visualizing selling more copies than Dan Brown see yourself failing and getting awful reviews. Then, dispute the feeling and beliefs that come from failing. It won’t program you to fail, it will practice your skills at disputing and help you deal with your fears.
Finally, ask yourself why the hell you take this crap so ff’in seriously. Do your best, grow as a writer, but for cripe sake, keep it in perspective. Taking yourself ultra-seriously is really boring.