To be a writer requires studying the effect life has on the human mind.
In a non-clinical environment, writers are psychologists, and better suited to the task than your local bartender—bartenders watch behavior, writers study what causes human action.
The study of human nature is essential for writers, whereas it’s just a bartender punch-line.
Characters act and respond based on how they think, flavored by their experiences and individual perceptions. Asking what motivates a character, and the life before the story that impacts their decisions, is a natural process for the fiction writer. Often, looking into one’s own outlook is the springboard catapulting the writer into the character development pool.
Self-doubt sharks swim in that psychological pool.
Writers worry if they are good enough, cringe and get defensive when others critique their work, betrayed when a story is rejected–each ignites the self-doubt fires. Self-doubt comes in many shapes, always wrestling with the fragile duo of confidence and ego. Invariably, the internal battle causes strife and creates a maligned attitude.
I love quotes because of their simplicity to a complex problem. One of my favorites is from the Moody Blues song, In The Beginning; although not specifically geared toward writing, it does deal with the psychology of writing.
“Face piles and piles of trials with smiles, it riles them to believe that you perceive the web they weave.”
The first part of the quote speaks to your response when faced with adversity, the second your perception and attitude toward the world around you.
Once you acknowledge the attitude problem is not them, but You, the hurdle becomes easier to leap.
You create the doubt and valleys of pain. When you take responsibility for that view, you begin to realize the roadblocks are not uncaring editors, a system stacked against you, harried agents that didn’t take time to fully consider your genius, but your own whining.
Yes, whining. We all do it. I’m sure my wife is tired of hearing mine; I know I am, so I decided to stop. Being a contemplative fellow, I considered:
What if I didn’t complain when a rejection appeared, but smiled? It felt counter-intuitive, and I admit at first it was just bad acting. I didn’t feel all fuzzy, nor happy or even content.
But then I thought, “Hey, it just didn’t work for them, the same way buying a new smart phone doesn’t work for me.” It doesn’t necessarily mean the smart phone is bad (the same is true of the story), but that it wasn’t the right fit at this place and time.
As I once told my son, “You have every right to disagree with me and be wrong.”
Maybe the next submission will be a better choice, and the editor will make the right decision.
Repackage the story or novel and send it to the next one on your list, and most importantly, get to work on your current project. And smile about the work you have before you.
You can’t control what others do, no more than they can control your actions. Control what you can, which is the delirious act of creation. Let the world take care of its own problems as you take control of the worlds you create, and those of the characters wrestling with their own doubt.
And smile—it’s the shield against the angst.
See You on the Next Page,
“Don’t write to become famous or to make a lot of money. Write because you love it. Write because not writing for more than a few days feels like you have abandoned a puppy in a mineshaft. Save the puppy.” – Joe Beernink
Links on psychology and writing:
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