A Writer’s Number One Enemy

Who is a writer’s worst enemy?

In the writing industry we often make agents or traditional publishers out to be the “bad guys” and brand them as narrow-minded, unwilling to take a chance, picky, slow, unable to keep up with the changing times, etc.

But are they really the source of a writer’s angst? With the ease of e-publishing, a writer can bypass agents and editors altogether if they’re frustrated. No longer are agents and editors necessary for everyone seeking publication.

Sometimes we point the finger at the busyness of our lives as our number one enemy. We lament, that if only we had more time to write, we’d finally complete our book, or we’d get around to the manuscript that needs editing.

But we all know that we can make time for the things that are important to us. If we really want to write, if we’re passionate enough about it, we’ll somehow squeeze in the time somewhere. Right?

So what really is a writer’s number one enemy?

I believe WE are our own worst enemies. Yes, I am my worst enemy. And you are yours.

In a recent post, Encouragement for Aspiring Authors, numerous writers mentioned just how much they struggle with their own discouraging thoughts. Here are a few comments:

“I discourage myself all on my own . . . me, myself, and I can really do a number on my ego when it comes to my writing.”

“No one else but myself has been a discouraging voice. I have been my own worst enemy, and I need to squelch all the negative self-talk about never 'amounting to anything, so why waste my time' has just got to stop.”

“I've been wondering after reading the writing blogs lately if I should even try to write at all anymore.”

When I thought about WHO or WHAT discourages me the most, I realized (like these commenters) that I am my own biggest discourager. I send myself negative messages all too frequently. Even as an award-winning author I say things like, “What’s wrong with me that my sales aren’t higher” or “With so many other authors out there, who am I?”

The messages we send ourselves can have a paralyzing effect. We can discourage ourselves so much that we reach a point where we don’t want to keep going. Maybe we feel like giving up our writing career altogether. Or maybe the negative messages get in the way every time we sit down to write so that the story is stuck and the words won’t flow.

How do we battle our own discouragement and keep it from defeating us? I don’t have the perfect answer, but here are some things that keep me going:

I surround myself with people who believe in me, who are there to encourage me when I’m especially down, who remind me of the positives in my writing and in my career.

I write every day, no matter what my mood, even if I’m absolutely down in the dumps. Even when I feel like I’m writing the worst crap the world has ever seen, I get words on the page—every day without fail.

I make sure that I’m constantly learning new things. I pick up a new writing craft book or re-read an old one. There’s something about the process of learning that gives us fresh excitement and renewed confidence that we’re moving forward.

I go back to the reason why I’m writing—because ultimately I love telling stories. I love stringing words together. And I love being able to encourage others through my writing.

What about you? What messages have you been sending yourself lately? Are you letting the discouragement beat you down too much? How do you fight against your own negativity?

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