I’d like to think about the voices in our heads. I’m not talking about characters, but the voices that tell us about our capabilities. The voices can sound something like this: You can’t write. You can write part of a book but you can’t write the whole thing. It was a fluke, you did it once, but you can’t do it again. It’s going to dry up, and you won’t be able to write another thing. You didn’t win that contest so they think you can’t write. You didn’t even place in the contest. You got a rejection slip (or ___ rejection slips); you’ll never get published. You can’t diagram a sentence, why do you think you can write? Only your friends and family say you can write…they have to say that. See, you haven’t written in (fill in the length of time)…you’re not a writer. Or, better stick with what you’ve got, you’ll never make it with another publisher/genre/etc.

There seems to be a simple, effective answer to all of the above. It is to write. Just do it. Inigo DeLeon is credited with having said that the only cure for writer’s block is writer‘s cramp. It is true also for quieting the negative criticisms in your head. How can you be productive if you are busy thinking of reasons that you can’t write? The answer is to write about anything. It starts the creative juices flowing.

Try this: Next time you’re stumped,or want to quiet the negative voices, write a paragraph about the old woman that lives in the tumbledown cottage set back off the road. The front stoop is crooked, the house is a wreck, but the yard is magnificent. Every conceivable flower grows there. What is she like? Who is she? How do you know her? Why is there a gravestone out back behind her cottage? Start writing about her and your creative ideas will start to feed on one another, bursting forth into other areas, including your current story. Creative ideas are like rabbits. Give them the slightest opportunity and they become prolific. (By the way, I'd love to read your stories about the old woman...)

It doesn’t matter what anyone has ever said to you about your writing. If you are reading this blog, you have an interest in writing. KEEP WRITING. Just do it. Make yourself sit down and write. Something. Anything. Write a 'to do' list, if that’s all you can come up with for the moment. Just put your fingers on the keyboard, or pen to paper, and DO THE PHYSICAL ACT OF WRITING. Your mind will engage and start to produce. The physical act of writing leads to inspiration. Tell all the voices to shut up and write. Just do it.

Positive voices help us be productive, yet they can have a negative backlash. Remember the Rocky movies? Rocky won because he had, “The eye of the tiger,” a fierce desire (and need) to win. Sometimes positive voices take away the eye of the tiger. We can become complacent, or too comfortable, and thus, less productive. Or we can think we did it once but can’t do it again. Rocky lost the eye of the tiger and had to regain it before he could win again. Firmly put all the voices out of your head and just write…with determination. Just do it.

It doesn’t matter who has given negative feedback, whether it’s an editor, published writer, neighbor, friend, family member, teacher, or another aspiring author. Each person is entitled to their opinion. But they are just opinions. Many famous authors received a ridiculous amount of rejection slips before being published. Rejection can lead to better writing (see the last link below). Just because you are getting negative feedback from one or a few sources doesn’t mean you’re not a writer and not a good one. Just write and rewrite. Now, if every single source ever tells you that you can’t write, perhaps you should reconsider. But if there was one opinion, ever, anywhere, that gave you positive feedback (and I’m guessing there was or you wouldn’t be reading this), you have an audience out there that wants to read what you’re writing. Or, to put it another way, from the last link that follows, “If you like what you write, someone else will too.”

The voices can drive you crazy if you listen to them or worry about what they are saying. Tell them to shut up. There are also voices of emotion. You cannot wait until you FEEL like writing. It’s great when feelings prompt you to write. But what about when they keep you from writing? Ignore those feelings right along with the voices. And, there are voices of duty. Yes, you have a life to live, but these voices will stop you from ever writing if you let them. If you’re not ready to write on your current project, write something else. But write.

When asked for his single-best, most-important, can’t-live-without writing tip, John Grisham replied:
Write at least one page every day, without fail. If you’re trying to write a book, and you’re not writing at least one page a day, then the book is not going to get written.
(http://www.inkygirl.com/john-grisham-first-novel-rejected-28-times-advises-writers-to-aim-for-a-page-a-day/ )

Sit down in a chair with pen & paper or keyborad. Now, write. JUST DO IT.



Nina Sipes said...

Well done. If that didn't motivate someone--they're really paralyzed. You motivated me. It isn't that I don't want to write. I do, but apparently not enough to lose sleep. zzzzzz. I can't be any busier than everyone else! After your piece, I'm considering it.

Elaine Morrison said...

Thanks Nina --- I motivated myself, lol! Actually, Starla, Pat, & Roxanne are motivating me. I have heard all of them be asked about a looming deadline at different times. Each one had the same response. It was basically, "It will get done," with authority and confidence. They write because they choose to. I choose to also. C.S. Lewis & Ray Bradbury both received 800 rejections before their first sale. I also choose to have that kind of tenacity.

Pat Davids said...

You've hit the nail on the head with this one. Just do it. Write. All the rest will follow.

I'm glad I've had a small hand in motivating you.

Penny Rader said...

Thanks for the kick in the pants, Elaine. I needed that.

In my story world, Evangeline Miller lives in that tumbledown cottage. Beneath the lovingly tended gravestone lies her beloved daughter, Lily Rose. Lily Rose had the most wondrous green thumb. Come rain or shine, she was out there, her fingers in the dirt, caring for each of her flowers. After Lily Rose was murdered, Evangeline vowed the garden would continue to flourish in her daughter’s memory. And so it does, with the help of Lily Rose's daughters Poppy, Dahlia, Chrys, Sunny, and Daisy. Her son, Sweet Pea, also known as Fred, helps out when he can.

Becky A said...

Ok, ok, I'm writing. I have been avoiding the actual act for a couple of weeks while I spent time doing corrections and piddling. But, since you insisted, today I've been writing. If you keep those swift kicks coming, I might actually get this puppy done before Christmas!
Thanks, Miss Elaine, we needed that.
Hey Penny, I like your story! You sure Sweet Pea's alter ego isn't Popeye?

Elaine Morrison said...

Penny, I love the story of Evangeline. Remember when we discuseed doing the round robin story? Is that in our near future?

Becky, your story is getting so close to done --- keep writing! Besides, I NEED to know how it ends!

Elaine Morrison said...

I forgot to comment on my own new commitment. One page per day minimum...yesterday I accompanied my husband to the dentist because of something we had to do afterwards. I asked the receptionist for a blank sheet of paper and clipboard and wrote TWO pages while he saw the dentist. Today has been full from early this morning and I am just now (10pm) sitting down to write my page. But it will be done before the day is over. In this commitment I have purposed to never be affected by surroundings when I have to write. No more excuses for me.

Joan Vincent said...

What a rousing bolster to the writing spirit, Elaine. With spring life's pace seems to pick up and writing can tend to go by the wayside. Thanks for the encouragement. Now I think I'll just go and write!

Starla Kaye said...

Thanks for the motivational kick in the...well, you understand. All of us slack off from time to time, including me. I sort of slacked off last week and didn't meet my BIAW goal, even if I did do 41 pages. It annoys me when I don't make my goal. And with my deadlines looming, it ticks me off that I didn't work harder. Now I'm paying for it.

Elaine Morrison said...

41 pages! Wow. And I understand it's usually more?! I'm still proud of myself for my one page per day --- someday I will work my way to 41 pages in a week and beyond. You are an inspiration.