Every person I know has the potential to do awesome things. Every person you know has the same potential. It is not that difficult to do really good things, to create fantastic stuff for the world. The biggest thing standing in our way are ourselves. Self-sabotage is the biggest hurdle every creative person faces when it comes to creating good art. I am learning that the excuses are simply that- excuses, which should be ignored, put away, stomped on, and I just need to get on with it.
Let me set up my most magnificent example of self-sabotage. Back in 2012 I self-published my first novel – The Girl From Out of Town. A rollicking Steampunk adventure, featuring a Royal Refugee from another dimension, and a bored office worker from Accounts. Adventures, gun fights, swordplay, skyships and dragons! How awesome!
It is now 2017 and I am having to be threatened, pushed kicking and screaming, to work through the edits to try and get book 2 published by the end of March. A book whose first draft was finished at the beginning of 2014. And, Book 3? Only 2/3 of the way finished. Why am I not writing and publishing books! It is what I have told people I want to do!
Some reasons I have come up with over the years include- I need to make money so my writing should be around blogging and articles so I get paid now. The good old- it’s not good enough. I seem to have very high expectations of myself as an author, to which I am never going to reach. And then, the flip side of that is the fear of success.
I believe one of the first, and biggest, styles of self-sabotage is the belief that you’re not good enough. Imposter Syndrome, where you’re sure that someone is going to come up to you and point out that you’re not real, that you’ve just been lucky, and faking this whole success thing. They will call you out for being a fraud. I also believe the internet it the biggest source of this kind of fear. As I tell people all the time- the internet has people who hate kittens, so what can you do?
One of the best ways I have discovered to get over my self-sabotage is to just do it anyway. I know it sounds real simplistic, but I have written a few nanowrimo novels since I published The Girl From Out Of Town, and have no real need to publish them. I just wrote them. And the mere act is comforting, shows that I can do it if I want to.
Another way I have discovered is through journal writing. I am not a journal keeper, I don’t feel the need to write down my deepest, darkest thoughts. However, I am keeping a Writing Journal, where I write about, discuss with myself, ponder ideas, anything writing related, and especially related to me. And this journal covers both my professional writing and my Author Self. Indeed, part of the journal has me now identifying the Author Self as a separate writing entity. That joke about writers having split personalities? Yeah well, I took this one and set it aside. I am wanting to treat my Author Self as a client, and do the writing for it, that I do for my clients.
The third way I am getting through my self-sabotage, is telling people about them. I am collecting some accountability partners. I like the idea of accountability friends, but there is no risk, nothing to lose, if I just say- nah I didn’t do it. I am still trying to find a good way for accountability partners to penalise me if I don’t do a thing. Hold off a reward, perhaps? Best way to train animals is through rewards.
So to summarise my thoughts here:
- Just do it. Even in small steps. Do it for yourself, so you don’t feel the need to be judged by others.
- Keep a journal about the thing you are procrastinating about. IN a sense, writing about the thing, instead of doing the thing, will satisfy that procrastination troll inside you. But it will also allow you to have a conversation about this thing, with yourself.
- Find people who will keep you accountable. Have them offer you rewards for doing your thing, rather than penalise you for NOT doing the thing.
You can do it!