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Monday, November 14, 2016

Not All the Voices in a Writer's Head are Characters


Writers are psychotic little mammals. All wired up and worried about contracts and sales numbers and does-this-book-make-my-butt-look-big? One of the biggest angst generators is guilt.

We've all been there. Don't tell me you haven't got an internal mother inside your head pointing her finger at you. There's a plethora of things an author feels guilty about, everything from all the money you wasted getting a doctorate in osteopathic medicine and here you are writing Amish Zombie Romances, or that your family is destined to eat frozen pizza for dinner yet again. Okay, so maybe you don't feel guilty about those things, but there are common anxiety causing situations that most writers face.

Top 5 Guilt Inducing Scenarios

An overwhelming amount of regret for a sub-par word count.
Sometimes when you sit down to write, words clog into tangly globs. You feel bad because you know you're capable of more, but for whatever cosmic reason, the ol' creative juices just aren't flowing.

Shame weighs heavy on your shoulders when you think of the poor slobs out there in Nine-to-Five land.
Others eek out a living by the sweat of their brow, clocking 8-10 hours of back-breaking labor while you park your royal heinie on a cushioned office chair whenever you dang well feel like it.

Lack of a regular paycheck makes you feel a metric ton load of disgrace.

If you got paid by the word, this wouldn't be a problem. But it is. This kind of work doesn't bring immediate financial benefits, so there's not a whole lot to show for it up front . . . which creates tension.

You landed a contract and your critique partner didn't.
I hate it when this happens. There are so many fantastic writers out there who deserve to be published, so why did an editor scoop up my story and not theirs?

You should hate what you're doing like every self-respecting employee on the face of the earth.
But you don't. You love creating worlds and characters and super cool car chases that end in fiery explosions. But everyone else complains 24/7 about their drudgery at work, and though you try, you can't quite work up a single "drudgery" emotion to relate to them.

And that, my friends, is only the tip of the guilt iceberg. So, what's a writer to do with all this angst?

  • Ignore all the naysayers and joy-crushers who heap coals of you're-having-way-too-much-fun on your head.
  • Look at your writing as a  long-term investment, not a get-rich-quick money making scheme.
  • Incorporate a paradigm shift: writing involves a LOT of thinking, so just because your fingers aren't flying over the keyboard, that doesn't mean you're not working.
  • Keep in mind that creativity takes time. Michelangelo didn't paint the Sistine Chapel in a weekend.
  • Make a to-do list and cross items off as you finish them so that you can see what you're accomplishing.
And always remember: the act of pursuing a dream tends to make a lot of people cranky because they didn't have the guts or stamina to pursue theirs. Don't let them steal your joy.


Not All the Voices in a Writer's Head are Characters by MICHELLE GRIEP (Click to Tweet)

Author Michelle Griep

Michelle Griep’s been writing since she first discovered blank wall space and Crayolas. Follow her adventures and find out about upcoming new releases at her blog, Writer Off the Leash, or stop by her website. You can also find her at the usual haunts of FacebookTwitter, or Pinterest.

Like what you read? There’s more. WRITER OFF THE LEASH: GROWING IN THE WRITING CRAFT is a kick in the pants for anyone who wants to write but is stymied by fear, doubt, or simply doesn’t know how to take their writing to the next level.


  1. Ha! Boy, have you nailed it! Between those and my inner editor, AND those pesky characters, it's no wonder the hubs thinks I'm getting deaf. How could anyone hear over the din?

  2. You are such a hoot, Michelle! You have such great writerly wisdom and share it in your usual fun way.


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