What Keeps You From Writing?

October 5, 2017
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Gremlins: your cruel inner critics

Gremlins. If you write, you likely have them. Sometimes they creep up on you, other times they sit quietly on your shoulder and whisper in your ear, and other times they land feet first and screaming right in the middle of your stomach. They tell you you’re a dismal writer, they tell you you don’t know a comma from a comet, they tell you no one wants to read what you want to write.

Gremlins. Writing saboteurs. They’re the small, persistent voices that say we need to cut the grass, fold the laundry, wash the car, organize the closets, or do anything else before we write. After all, everything else is more important.

Gremlins taunt and tell us we’ll never be even remotely successful writers. They tell us our writing dreams are pipe dreams. They tell us that struggled-for first draft is garbage. They criticize and denigrate and tease.

Gremlins can ruin your best day, your best dialog, your best description simply by reminding you your best isn’t good enough.

So how do you dump the gremlins and do the writing? Here are some ideas.

  • Do something physical to your gremlin. If it’s sitting on your shoulder and whispering in your ear, knock it to the ground. Then stomp on it.
  • Draw a picture of your gremlin. Make it as ugly, monstrous, or misshapen as you imagine. Scowl at it, sneer at it. Then wad up the paper, and dump the paper and the gremlin into your wastebasket.
  • Pull out your inner child and imagine yourself in a cape and armor. Brace your feet, lock your knees, plant your hands on your hips, tip up your chin, look your gremlin straight in the eye, and say, “You’re not the boss of me!”

From Quit Whining Start Writing: A Novelist’s Guide to Writing by Tricia L. McDonald.

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