Holy cow, I loved this book.
And I adore Sarah Painter … her Worried Writer Podcast that helps writers overcome self-doubt, fear, and procrastination, her fiction novels, her Scottish accent, everything. She was recently a guest on the Self Publishing Show, another podcast that I love, and I swear … the story she told about her past and current struggles could be my own.
I can summarize my story quickly: All writers have mental demons. Mine has been winning. For far too long.
If this sounds familiar, then I highly recommend reading her nonfiction book, Stop Worrying; Start Writing: How to Overcome Fear, Doubt, and Procrastination. (Affiliate link.) There’s such a gorgeous warmth to her advice as her cheerful optimism gently nudges you back onto the path of creativity. I first read the Kindle version, but recently downloaded the audiobook she also narrates, since her voice is like a cozy hug from a kindred spirit.
I’m gushing, aren’t I? Well, whatever, she’s gushable. And I’ve bookmarked so many passages that resonated with me, such as:
If you don’t clean up your own head-space, develop productive (and healthy) work habits, and value your own creativity and work before you are published, (or get a massive deal or agent or win an award or whatever your own personal definition of ‘made it’ might be), it won’t magically appear after. In fact, you may find that your insecurities grow in proportion to the size of your success.How to Overcome Fear, Self-Doubt and Procrastination by Sarah Painter
Girl. GIRL! Oh my gosh, yes, this cannot be truer! Since the day I first decided to be a writer, I waited for that moment when things would click. When I would finally feel confident about my storytelling. When I would no longer feel like a fraud. When I felt like I belonged in the literary world.
At first, I believed this moment would arrive after I finished my first manuscript, but it didn’t happen.
Then I decided the magical key would turn when I got an agent. Nope. No key. So okay, when I sold my first book. And then when I sold my second book.
But it just didn’t happen and is part of the reason why I gave up because damn it, if I can’t feel like a writer after selling two books to large publishing houses, then when will I?
See, here’s the thing. There is no magical key. There is no glorious moment when all the puzzle pieces fall into place. Those mental demons never leave so you might as well make friends with them and then kindly push them aside when it’s time to write.
I read about the importance of work and sustained effort, of daily routine and word count goals, and I realised something wonderful – hard work trumped natural talent every single time.
I don’t know about you, but this gives me so much hope because while I’m certainly not the worse, I’m not anywhere near the top of the heap. Hard work trumps natural talent. This applies to so much in life.
Focus on today instead. What counts as a win today? An hour of writing? One hundred new words? Opening your document and thinking about your story?
Shifting the focus to the practice will ease the pressure of perfection, while making sure you are doing the very thing that will help you improved.
I could go on and on, but I’ll just summarize by saying again how much this book truly resonated with me. Sarah offers tons of concrete advice and practical strategies for busting down roadblocks, rekindling your creative passion, boosting confidence and developing a love for writing. It’s like having a lovely chat with a compassionate, supportive friend.
QOTD: Have you read this or any other writing craft books that resonated with you? Please tell me about them in the comments!