A guest post by paranormal and psychic mystery author Amie Gibbons… Congrats on the new book, Amie!
When I was first publishing, my friend Dot (Dorothy Grant) had the best advice I’ve ever gotten as an author.
And it can and should be applied to everything in life.
“Embrace the suck.”
Your first writings are going to suck, your first things out won’t sell well because nobody knows who you are, and you’re going to get bad reviews here and there because you can’t please everyone.
And in whatever new thing you do, there’s going to be some variation of those things, where essentially, you suck at what you’re doing. Sucking is part of learning.
Embrace the suck! Because if you don’t, if you try it, get feedback that says it sucks, you hate that it sucks, and you resent that someone told you it sucks, then you’ll give up.
But it goes beyond just new things. It goes for getting back to things.
I had to be reminded of this mantra lately. I didn’t consciously decide to give up. If you know me in person, you know the Gibbons stubbornness and refusal to learn the word “quit” runs bone deep. But when any mental or emotional problem is subconscious is when it’s the hardest to fight. You can’t fight what you can’t see.
I didn’t decide to give up. Life just happened. I had a breakup (and I don’t mean we dated a few months and fought constantly so we broke up; I mean we were together for 6 years, all but married, and he decided he just wasn’t feeling it). I started a new job that took a lot more brainpower than my previous job, which is a good thing for Attorney Amie, not so good for Author Amie. My ex’s and my cat died, taking part of my heart with him (may he live forever on in our photos and Gremlin Publishing).
So for a year and a half, I just wasn’t really writing. I would here or there, get a burst of energy and do a few thousand words in an evening, then not write anything for 2 months. I got in my 50K words for Nanowrimo in November, but after that, I didn’t write anything for about 5 months.
Most of the time, I didn’t have the energy. Depression will sap your energy. If you don’t know that personally, be grateful and just take my word for it. Even when I wasn’t exhausted, I didn’t feel like writing. I would look at my laptop and just not move, even though I knew I should try to write something.
It wasn’t writer’s block, because I knew generally what I wanted to happen in the story. I called it writer’s exhaustion, but I knew there was something deeper going on.
So you’re probably asking yourself what is that. Maybe you’ve been there too. Maybe you’re feeling it right now. I can’t guarantee that what happened to me is what is going on with you, but if this sounds familiar, it could be fear.
It took me over a year to figure out my block was due to fear. I was so wounded, so scared of rejection after what was basically a divorce without the paperwork, that I buried myself in everything else in my world, because I was afraid.
Putting your work out there is terrifying. You get hit with a million insecurities about it.
That it isn’t entertaining enough, characters aren’t likable enough, the lines aren’t punchy enough, that you’ll pour in time and energy and money, and it’ll flop because it isn’t good enough.
Which translates into, you as the writer. Are. Not. Good. Enough.
A lot of artists tie the worth in themselves to the worth in their work. If you are in a good place mentally and emotionally, you can separate these things.
If you’re not? Then any flaws in your book are metaphors of the flaws in you. Any criticism, anything you could’ve done better, anything that just isn’t someone’s cup of tea, and especially if it doesn’t sell well, are all reflections of you as a human being.
So if you’re not writing, if you have time and you know generally where you want the story to go, but it just ain’t happening, if you get tired at the mere thought of writing, ask yourself, is that the why? Is there a fear you are avoiding?
Has something bad happened that left you grieving? Are you depressed? Are you where I was, gluing the broken pieces of yourself back together, operating on injured, and always one crack away from breaking?
If so, it might be that you’re afraid any rejection of your work will be a rejection of you. If you don’t write anything, don’t finish a book, then you don’t have to put it out there, you are protecting yourself from the world having the chance to reject and hurt you.
Your creative work is your heart and soul, ripped out of your chest cavity and put on the scales, asking for the world to judge you. If you’re so scared of feeling the bad that you put up a wall, then you can’t feel the good, you can’t feel anything. You can’t build and create if there’s a wall between you and your soul. So to be able to create, you have to break that wall, and unfortunately, that means feeling the bad things too.
Which brings us back to my point.
You thought I was just babbling on, didn’t you?
Embrace your pain, your fear, let it have its say. Listen to it. It will keep screaming under the surface and affecting your behavior without you knowing why if you don’t. This doesn’t just go for writing. It goes for creating anything. Even relationships. Think of it this way, have you ever liked someone, so the first time they gave a hint that they may not feel as strongly for you, that you bailed on them?
It’s the same idea. You bail so they can’t bail on you. You don’t write so they can’t give you a bad review. If you’re so scared of the bad happening that you shut down, you can’t feel, then you will never get anything up and running. You will always be spinning your wheels, wondering why it’s not working.
So, the cure? I hope you have it memorized by now.
Embrace the suck!
Don’t give up.
Thank you for coming to my Ted talk. 😊
And, in this vein of embracing fear, check out my latest release, Scorpions of the Deep, first in my new Elemental Demons Urban Fantasy series.
“Subtle and dark, urban fantasy at its best.” – Leo Champion, Author of the Legion Series
Strange things are happening, things beyond what most humans can see. Sarah Blakely doesn’t believe in anything above, but there are more things on Hell and Earth than are dreamt of in her philosophy. Dark things.
And one of them has set its sights on Sarah.