Don’t beat yourself up over your writing. Just take these 4 steps.

Don’t beat yourself up over your writing. Just take these 4 steps.

posted in: Being a writer | 0

 

Life got in the way this week.

I started getting behind last week, mostly due to the state of our redecorated house (I can see the floor again, which is nice). Plus, you know, the need to make money. Those two things were given top priority.

Then on Monday, I had a day off. I mean, a proper day off. I didn’t just not do any work, I went on an adventure. I travelled to the other side of the country to see one of my bestest friends and together we caught up, explored Hindhead Common in Surrey and spotted this little dude.

A common lizard on Hindhead Common
A little common lizard aka our dinky dragon friend

It was an amazing day.
Can you believe I’d actually scheduled myself to edit a chapter of my novel when I got home?
Ha!

Yeah, by the time I’d gotten lost, fist pumped the air (banging my hand on my car roof) when I finally found the M4, and made it home by 8pm, I was a little too tired to keep my eyes open, never mind turn my laptop on.

Of course, a long, exhausting day of stressful lostness, exhilarating friend talk and much exploring also meant that I accidentally got up late the next day.

By Wednesday I was behind on my blog posts for WITW, the editing of my novel, the plan for writing the next novel is still buried in my head and don’t even get me started on the self-publishing plan for Matter of Time.
Oh, and the newsletters.

*cue hysterical laughter*

And I started to feel a tad rubbish. I started to beat myself up. I mean, how dare I not be Superwoman and able to do five things at once?
We’ve all been there.

Maybe you feel like your writing is bad, or the story isn’t going the way you want. Or you made a mistake at work or fluffed what you thought could be a big opportunity.

So you beat yourself up.

That’s fine, it’s natural.
I reckon there are four steps to beating yourself up. Ready?

Step 1: the lecture

You can only beat yourself up for a little while. Seriously, give yourself ten minutes of lecturing yourself (talking to your mirror reflection can really help with the lecturing).
Tell yourself what you could have, nay, should have done differently (been more realistic, planned ahead, caught up on work beforehand – in my case). Remind yourself that you’re a good person but that you’re human.

Step 2: the deep breath

Once you’ve done that, take a good deep breath.
You feel like you’ve failed, but you haven’t.

Life gets in the way. It’s what life does. In my case, it tripped me up in wonderful ways. I’ve gotten a nicer home and a day adventuring with a friend. So what if I’m a bit behind?

Step 3: get some perspective

Put your ‘failure’ into perspective. What really went wrong?

You see, life is all about spontaneity. But humans are all about predictability – it must be a survival thing. The two don’t quite mesh. But that doesn’t mean you’ve failed.

Mistakes happen. Writing is sometimes bad. Plots sometimes fail. Opportunities are missed. Work can build up.
So what?
Learn from your mistakes. Keep going, push through. Take a step back and have a rethink. Another opportunity (probably better) will be along shortly. And work your butt off for a few days to catch up.

As the great Pete Venkman once said:

"Sometimes, shit happens...and who're you gonna call?"

 

The answer is you, not the Ghostbusters.
Although if you want to give yourself a homemade proton pack and sing your own theme music, that’s up to you.

Right, so we’ve lectured ourselves, taken a deep breath and put it all into perspective.

Step 4: take action

You’ve wallowed and justified yourself. Now it’s time to fix whatever you feel has gone wrong.

If you made a small mistake at work or something similar, your action might be as simple as holding your head high and moving on with your life.

But if it’s a bit bigger, here are some things to try.

  • Brainstorming.
    I love lists. Do you love lists? This is what I did last night. I wrote down everything that needed doing along with how long each task realistically takes. I figured out what was important and what could be left. Then I rewrote my schedule. I also brainstormed a load of content ideas for WITW, to help me keep on track.Having problems with your plot? Brainstorm on all of the possible outcomes or paths for your characters to take. It’ll help you work out what to change or where to go from here.Missed a great opportunity? Take to the internet and brainstorm new places to seek out that next opportunity. Or how to get that opportunity to come to you.
  • Tidy up.
    What? Yeah, I know, I keep harking on about this. But having a tidy up really can help to clear your head. If you’re feeling a bit failurific or insecure, tidying up your desk or files, or even your house, can help you feel like you’re starting afresh.
  • Keep on going.
    No matter what has tripped you up and has you beating yourself up, just keep going. Keep on writing (especially), keep on editing, keep on walking and working. Hold your head high and smile. Don’t worry about looking the fool because, honestly? No one’s watching. Everyone is so wrapped up in themselves, or in their smartphones, that they haven’t noticed that life has gotten in your way.
    It’s not a big deal.

The (sometimes sad) thing about life is that it continues. No matter what. So, whatever your reasons for beating yourself up, follow these four steps and move on.
Have fun, make days for adventures, allow life to get in the way sometimes, and then pick yourself up and carry on.

 

 

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