I’m currently working on ANNIHILATION, Book 2 in my new SOUL SEEKER Series. While writing this book during the Covid-19 pandemic, I find myself being taken to dark places and struggling daily to get out, which oddly mimics the stark reality of my story. I can’t help wondering if other authors believe that the negative energy in our current situation has altered their storylines, or dampened their creativity the same way it affects visual artists. As an art gallery owner, I remember how 9/11 turned everything dark for months on end…and varying shades of grey for artists. Can the same be said for published authors and struggling writers? If so, how is it possible to capture the happiness we once knew and reflect this in our work when everything seems so dire?
I found the answer while researching positive responses to depressive influences and would love to share this with anyone who might be interested.
The first step towards conquering negativity and quelling your chatterbox mind is to recognize the types of thoughts you experience as they occur. I found seven types of negative thinking that affect writers, although I’m sure there are more. How many of these do you recognize?
Mind-reading thoughts impact you the most when self-esteem is low. You feel 100% certain that you know what someone else thinks about your work and this can lead to the loss of confidence. This in turn can lead to you talking yourself out of doing things because you believe you ‘know for sure’ what the outcome will be.
“I can tell that they don’t like my writing. I know she thinks I’m not good enough. They didn’t like my work last time so they’re not going to like it this time.”
2. Generalizing and filtering-out:
When you have negative thoughts, sometimes you latch on to one small thing that might have gone wrong – a struggling writing session or unwelcome feedback – and you blow this up out of all proportion. At the same time you also filter out anything positive that might have happened, reaching an unrealistic, negative conclusion.
“They didn’t like paragraph three so this must mean that the entire premise of my work is flawed. I kept getting distracted in my last writing session – I’ll never finish if this keeps happening. I’m beginning to think I should give up.”
This form of negative thinking often occurs when writers compare their work to others. Either you think your work is not good enough or conclude that if you can’t write like someone else, then you’ll never achieve any success.
“If I don’t get my work completed on the date I specified, then I might as well throw in the towel. If I don’t get the recognition I seek or win awards for my work, then I’ll never make it in this industry.”
When you experience catastrophic thoughts about your writing, you become anxious and unfocused. This can lead to negative spirals in your work habits and overall wellbeing.
“What if I never make it as a writer? I’ll never achieve my goals. Everything is wrong with the idea I came up with – it’s never going to improve or be accepted.”
5. Comparing yourself:
Writers often compare their current progress – or lack thereof – with another time in their lives when they were able to accomplish more or found the writing process easier. You become overly self-critical and nostalgic for this productive time rather than simply accepting that your situation has changed.
“Writing used to be so easy – why am I finding it so hard now? I should be far further along than I am – what am I doing wrong?”
This happens when you unjustifiably hold someone, some thing or some situation responsible for the problems you may be experiencing with your writing. Rather than taking responsibility for your own actions, you feel like you’re the victim of a situation and this can be damaging to the project you’re working on or any future writings.
“I would have never done that if they hadn’t told me to. The feedback I received ruined my life and ended my writing career.”
Sometimes you’re unwilling to listen to constructive criticism because you feel you are right and the listener is wrong. This type of thinking can lead to resentment and stalemating your work.
“I can’t see what they don’t like about my writing, there must be something wrong with them. I don’t know why they can’t see what I’m trying to explain. They’re just not paying attention or understanding my storyline.”
It’s not unusual to have negative thoughts about writing ideas, critiques and unsolicited responses, but it’s only by recognizing them for what they are that you can find a positive way to move forward. Push aside overly self-critical patterns and you’ll find yourself taking the first step towards overcoming them. Before you know it, you’ll find something uplifting, hopeful and rewarding in the stories you create.