Remember the first time you thought about becoming an author? The first time you allowed yourself to dream big? You started out excited, motivated by the thought of holding your own book in your hands and you began to make serious plans. Yet, it has not gone as smoothly as you envisioned and now progress has stalled altogether. Writing a book is hard, yet even more difficult is admitting that you are the biggest obstacle standing in your way. Whether you have allowed self-doubt to take over or you're simply failing to prioritize, it's time for some serious self-reflection and readjustment. Here are 5 common ways that authors sabotage themselves and how you can avoid them.
Waiting for the perfect time
Are you stalling? If you keep telling yourself that you need 'x' and 'y' to succeed, then it's time for some imperfect action. Fear and perfectionism can keep you frozen in place, chained to an unsatisfying comfort zone. The best antidote is to write something, anything. It doesn't have to be perfect and it doesn't have to be a complete novel. Don't wait for the stars to align or the perfect week of no-distractions to arrive. Start by taking small messy steps forward. Stop dreaming about what you could do in the future and begin now with what you have.
Action Steps: Try some 10 minute creative writing prompts, loosen up with a writing sprint or allow yourself 15 minutes of free writing when you first wake up. Above all, give yourself permission to write badly.
Prioritizing badly (or not at all)
In an over-scheduled life, filled with work and social obligations, it’s easy to get stuck in the cycle of ´busyness´. As part of a society that glorifies ´busy´, filling your day with mundane tasks is a difficult habit to quit. If you are reading this and nodding in agreement, try asking yourself what really matters. What do you want to achieve in the long-term? How could you allocate your time accordingly?
Action Steps: Aim to practice minimalism in your life by getting crystal clear on what needs to be done to achieve your goals. Look at your daily schedule to see where you are simply filling time in with ´busyness´. Give yourself time for the things in life that are important and cut back on the rest. Delegate and outsource if you need to. Get organized. Plan and guard your writing time.
Stepping outside our comfort zone is scary. Whether it´s fear of failure or fear of success, both are a threat to our self-image. Imposter syndrome, self-doubt and fear of failure are all tied to a lack of self-confidence and feeling unworthy of your own success. While you may not be able to shake this fear overnight there are steps you can take to push ahead.
Action Steps: Your new motto is: Feel the fear and do it anyway! Start small. Work out what is the tiniest step you can take to begin moving in the direction you want to take. Then do it! Allow yourself to feel the discomfort but not to quit. Celebrate your victories (however small) and keep moving forward, one tiny step at a time.
The Comparison Trap
The more you compare yourself to others the less time you have to invest in your own work. While it's fantastic to have author role models (and we all love a good fangirl/fanboy moment) realize that you are just as capable of achieving massive success. Admire those authors all you want, then put your head down and focus on your own work.
Action Steps: Make a list of all your strengths. What is unique about your stories? Why should readers read your books? What do you love about your writing? Try to be aware of when you start comparing yourself to others. Avoid comparison triggers (put down that phone and stop scrolling through social media). Focus on what you do best.
Taking criticism to heart
Rejection is never easy to take. When you pour your heart and soul into your writing it’s difficult to remain objective, yet not every reader, agent or publisher is going to like your work. Successful authors are those that didn’t stop trying at the first sign of failure. Despite the sting, rejection can be a fantastic tool for increasing resilience and improving your writing. Try to stay open to critiques and don’t take every word personally. You’re not going to be everyone’s favorite author, but someone out there is going to love your work. Write for them and for yourself.
Action Steps: Working on that bulletproof skin? We´ve put together loads of tips to help you turn every rejection into a positive. Check out these posts: