Ways You Might Be Self-Sabotaging Your Writing Career

By on April 18, 2018
Ways You Might Be Self-Sabotaging Your Writing Career - Writer's Life.org

One thing many writers have in common is their ability to self-sabotage. Writers can often be so unfairly negative about themselves and their work it is as if they are their own worst enemy.

Bar the obvious negative effect this has one ’s self-esteem, this self-sabotage also naturally has an effect on a writers ability to succeed. Having put so much time, energy and care into your work, doesn't it seem something of a shame if you are the one who gets in the way of your success?

Being open to the possibility of actually being a successful writer is so important, it’s not just about luck, or even about talent, it’s also about having a positive mindset and the determination to keep going even when the chips are down.

So what are the signs to look out for which may suggest you are sabotaging your writing career? Here are some of the most common:

You’ve fallen out of love with writing

Gone are the days where you felt excited and elated every time you sat down to write. Lately, it feels so much more forced, your stories lack the passion and flow of earlier times, and you keep getting distracted or finding any excuse to leave your work and go and do something else. If this sounds like you, you need to think about what might be causing you to feel this way. If you can understand the cause as to why your writing doesn’t fulfil you as it used to you can tackle it head-on. Make a list of all the things you love about writing and all the obstacles that stop you from doing it or enjoying it as you should. Focus on what makes you happy and don’t worry about the rest.

You’ve lost confidence in your ability to write

If you’ve started to feel negative about your writing ability, and everything you write seems terrible, this negativity is bound to have an impact on the quality of your writing overall. Perhaps it’s time to reassess how you critique your work. Are you too hard on yourself? Or perhaps you need to go back to basics and start again. Producing a great piece of writing is a slow and layered process, but it is essential that you remain confident in your ability to achieve what you want to achieve.

You’re suffering from the dreaded writer's block

If you simply can’t find any inspiration and every time you sit down to write your mind goes blank, there could be an underlying reason that has locked you in a downward spiral, and you need to get yourself out of it before your career starts to suffer. It’s hard to be creative when you are feeling stressed or anxious so try to find ways to clear your mind and relax so that you have the necessary freedom to write. Find inspiration by joining a writing group, taking up a new hobby, travelling or just experimenting with your writing to see if taking it in a new direction reinvigorates you once more.

When you do get some interest, you worry too much

If an agent or publisher shows interest in your book, it’s important to accept this as an awesome compliment. Some writers end up self-sabotaging by immediately finding the enormity of finishing their book or making suggested revisions too overwhelming. They feel like an imposter, become suspicious and uncertain, and pester the agent or publisher so much that eventually, the deal falls through. Remember if you do get interest, you are in a considerable minority. It’s OK to be nervous but try to be calm and professional and stay confident in your ability to get the job done.

You finish your work and never send it off

A classic sign of writer self-sabotage is that dusty old manuscript that sits shrouded in shame at the bottom of a desk drawer, or those many draft emails to agents and publishers that have been sitting ready to go for months. If you have finished your work, spent a sensible about of time and focus editing it and crafted a solid submission letter, it’s time to let it go. You are probably never going to feel your work is perfect or good enough to submit, but if you want to stand a chance there has to be a point where you let it go.

If you’re self-sabotaging your writing career, it’s time to figure out why. Once you start giving it some thought the reasons should become pretty clear so just listen to yourself, your instincts and try to nip it in the bud as soon as possible.

Bethany Cadman -author of 'Doctor Vanilla's Sunflowers'

Bethany Cadman -author of 'Doctor Vanilla's Sunflowers'

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