Over the past month I’ve been avoiding doing my work. I love my work, I’m passionate about Kdramas and helping writers to unlock the secrets that they hold, and yet… I’m avoiding doing it. Has this happened to you? I had a good think and realized I have a writer mindset problem. Maybe you have a writer mindset problem too.
Writer Mindset Secret 1
Don’t compare yourself to others.
As an author it’s very easy to “see” how our peers are doing. We can go to Amazon and look them up and see their ranking. This number can easily give us a gauge of how “well” we’re doing. But what does this number do to our writer mindset?
Imagine Nora Roberts went to sit down and write her next book. Before she did so, though she went to Facebook and saw Diana Gabaldon’s book sitting at number one. She went down the list of top 100 Romances and she couldn’t find her books anywhere.
If Nora Roberts had the mindset I find myself in most of the time her “inner mean girl” would think these things:
- Am I writing in the wrong niche?
- Do I need to take more craft classes?
- What is Diana doing for her marketing? How much does she spend on her ads?
- How man fans does she have?
- What do her readers not like about her book?
- Do I do these things that her readers don’t like?
It would go on and on and guess what happens next? You’ve spent countless minutes worrying about your sales and comparing yourself to Diana Gabaldon. You’re not Diana Gabaldon and you don’t have to be!
Mindset Secret #1: Stop comparing yourself to others. You are on your own path surrounded by your own set of circumstances. You have a backstory unlike anyone else’s. You see the world differently than anyone else. You are not #InsertNameHere and that’s GREAT!
How boring would the world be if we only had one romance author voice? Your voice counts too. Use it!
How to Do It: (Simple, not easy)
- Take note of when you’re comparing yourself to someone else.
- Reframe your mindset. Instead of saying, “I wish I had as many sales as she does.” Think: “Wow, Diana G is rocking it today! Good for her!”
- Accept your feelings. If that comparison has already come in and made you feel crappy, accept it. “I accept that comparing myself to Diana G made me feel sad.” Feel the feeling and then move on to something on your to-do list.
- The only one you should be competing with is yourself. Can you do better than you did with your last word count? Your last book release? Can you improve your characters on this next draft?
Writer Mindset Secret 2
Do not insist on perfection.
Perfectionism. Do you suffer from it?
How many of these do you answer yes to?
- When you release a book, do you focus solely on your sales numbers more than the fact that you spent months to create a glorious piece of art?
- If you try something new and you’re not good at it, do you give up?
- When your editor tells you that something needs fixing does that feel like a personal attack?
- When you finish a book and a reader points out a typo does it make you feel like a complete failure?
- Do you struggle to finish your book because you’re afraid it isn’t perfect and ready to be shared?
If you answered yes to more than one of these it’s very likely you have some perfectionism mindset issues. No judgements! And if you’re a woman it’s very likely you do! Why? Society.
We women are expected to do everything and look magazine-ready while doing it. You “should” be the perfect mother, the perfect wife, the perfect housekeeper, the perfect daughter, the perfect friend and have a perfect career to boot. And on top of that you should have the perfect diet, the perfect fitness routine and look perfectly put together at all times.
This bleeds over into our writing work as well. Should you slap a book together and release it without a care? I mean, you can. Maybe it would be freeing for you. But you cannot expect your books to be perfect. Nothing – and I mean nothing – in this world is perfect. You included. (Me too!)
So how do you overcome this mindset issue?
- Identify what perfectionism is costing you.
How many more stories could you get out there to your readers if you could get past your perfectionism editing time? How much more time would you have for writing if you delegated your household duties to someone else? Or (*gasp*) let the house stay a little dirtier for longer?
- Play the “What would it mean?” game.
Original Thought: My book sucks. What would it mean if your book sucks? If my book sucks then that means I won’t get many sales. What would it mean if don’t get many sales? It would mean that I’m not good enough to be publishing my work. (The underlined phrase is the root of the issue. This is your fear.)
- Identify and own your flaws.
Your characters have flaws, so why do you think you shouldn’t? Do you hate your characters because of their flaws? No! In fact it’s usually the opposite. Flaws humanize our characters and we can then sympathize with them. No one is perfect. Once you have your list mark which ones are changeable flaws and which ones aren’t. Stop expending energy wishing away flaws that cannot (or will not) be changed.
- Write yourself a kind letter.
This one is my favorite and I do it on a smaller scale every day. I’ll write myself little love notes. The things I want others to say about me. Why does it mean less if it comes from me? Write words of encouragement to yourself on post-its and hang them all around. Send emails to yourself and schedule them for your release day, or when you know it’s going to be tough for you.
Writer Mindset Secret 3
Don’t let self doubt keep you stuck.
This one is very firmly me. Self doubt is a huge monster. I self doubt myself all the time. Should I wear this or this? Should I write this or this? Am I doing the right thing? Is this a mistake?
What happens when you doubt your own thoughts all the time?
A 2002 study found that self doubt can lead to a greater need for approval from external sources, lower self-esteem, higher rates of anxiety and depression and procrastination.
How can you fix it?
- Be Aware of Your Emotions
Emotions can influence your thoughts. Be aware and begin to label your thoughts if you notice self-doubt taking control. Practice saying, “Okay I’m feeling ______ right now so I might be ________.” Emotions are not bad or good. They just are. Recognize them and accept them first. Then try to separate them from reality.
- Become a Detective
When you feel you have a self-doubt statement coming out, (I am a failure as an author), write down a two column list of evidence. Column One: Evidence I am a failure as an author & Column Two: Evidence I am NOT a failure as an author. When you are finished look at the lists and figure out if that self-doubt statement is valid or not.
- Play Worst-Case Scenario
When you’re stuck writing your book or you aren’t sure if you should publish it or (like me) you feel that putting yourself on Youtube is a huge mistake play the worst-case scenario game. “What’s the worst case scenario if I ____?” For me the worst case scenario if I put myself on Youtube is that no one will watch the channel. Or some trolls are mean. Then ask yourself, is that something you can deal with? Will it kill you? You can handle a lot. Don’t be afraid of rejection, criticism or failure. Just keep trying!
- Know that a little Self-Doubt is Okay
If you’re 100% confident all the time that can be worse. Having some self-doubt is perfectly normal. Accept and embrace that BUT keep moving forward. “I’m feeling some self-doubt around writing today, but I’m going to set a timer and try to write for fifteen minutes anyway. Progress, not perfection.”
Putting It All Together
The beauty of writer mindset is that it’s all within your power to control. There are things that you can actively do to switch it from one that is hindering you to one that is helping you.
I’ve been working with my mindset for nearly three years now and it’s still a battle – why wouldn’t it be? I’ve learned and been practicing negative mindset for thirty plus years! Remember that your life is a journey, not a destination. Any time you’re unhappy with the direction you are headed you have the power to change it. Am I promising that it will be easy and happy and rainbows? Nope, but it is your choice. That is your power.
I hope this article was helpful! If you want more ideas on how to get past your writer’s block you can find them in my latest book: The Kdrama Cure. Want to read more writing tips? Check out my other blog posts.