Beware the Bad Habits: Or, How Do You Hold Yourself Back?

I think we all have bad habits; part of the human condition and all that. For writing, I think we have a whole separate set of bad habits. Some of the ones that drive me bananas usually have to do with using the muse as scapegoat, and giving into writers’ block, or crumbling beneath fear. I think (hope) I’m pretty good at avoiding the first two (I control my muse, not the other way around … and I generally try to take care of him, and I’m not a huge believer in complete writers’ block but do believe in fatigue).

Which leaves fear … that stinky little guy who sneaks up on you and leaves you quivering and terrified, convinced that everything you do is terrible, that only rejections await in the mailbox, that nothing good will ever happen to you.

And indeed, we can look at statements like those above and think, “yeah, right, that’s not me, I’d never believe nonsense like that” … except when we’re locked into that cycle and trap of fear and we think exactly ridiculous things like that.  This becomes a bad habit if first, you give in to it rather than just recognizing it for what it is and moving on, and second, if you try to ignore it until it sneaks up and gets you anyway.

The  latter is my bad habit. I try to ignore the fact that sending out countless queries, etc and getting back plenty of rejections (along with the actually-worse non-responses) isn’t a big deal. That it doesn’t eat at me a little every time, making me wonder is it me? Is it the work? What am I doing wrong? Instead of sometimes looking at the fact that usually the answer is a bit more complicated than personal failing (it’s the “usually” that gets me).

Anyway, this kind of fear response can end up holding you back, not writing, and altogether, becoming completely useless, since it could lead to a bout of depression and feeling down on yourself all around. I know better, and yet I seem to come back to this cycle again and again anyway. It’s predictable that at first, I’ll love my story. When it’s finally ready to send out (and after coming to hate it through revision), I simultaneously start submitting that story and writing a new one. The next step is that I love the new story … and feel that it’s so much better than the one that’s being submitted, clearly this is why I get poor response.

So that’s my bad habit, what’s yours? Can you recognize it? And better yet, can you prevent it?

Thanks for reading – have a great week!