Does your perfectionism ever stop you from finishing your novel. I started a new project not too long ago and it was going extremely well until I suddenly decided it wasn’t good enough. We’ve all had these moments and I’m not immune. I’ve developed this new habit of constantly starting my books and stories over again.
Sometimes I decide I want to change the point of view. Sometimes I just think I need to change a few things at the beginning of the story. Instead of going back and making those changes, I just decide to start writing the whole thing over again.
I did that just this morning. I started from the beginning of a novel I’m already halfway through. As I rewrote the first chapter, I realized that I didn’t want to make as many changes as I originally thought. I decided to save the changed first chapter and go back to the original book I was writing and work on that.
This problem of constantly starting over has been a problem with my writing before. I’ve worked hard to get beyond it, but never thought it would sneak up on me again. It’s a common problem for writers to have.
Your Inner Critic
We all have doubts. Some doubts are stronger than others. The critic in your head is trying to keep you safe. It sees you doing things that are different that might put you at risk in some way and wants to stop it.
The risk doesn’t have to be something that is physically harmful. It could be anything that will cause you to step outside of your comfort zone. In writing, it could be putting a story you created out for the public to read. The reality of the situation is that not everyone will like your writing. You are opening yourself up to be criticized by people you don’t know.
Your brain has developed a comfort zone. It likes where you are now and is weary of change. This change can include success as well as failure.
What your critic says to you is deeply ingrained. It comes from your childhood and how as an insecure child you spoke to yourself. That’s why even when you try your hardest not to criticize yourself it can still be quite difficult to stop it, but controlling this critic is important to your success.
Silencing Your Inner Critic
The first step to silencing your inner critic is slowing down the criticisms and taking an honest look at them. Look at the criticisms. Are they valid? Many people are their own worst critics. If you are overly harsh with yourself you may not be able to honestly evaluate your writing. This is why it is good to be in a writing group or to have a writing partner. If you don’t have a writing partner write now, get someone you know to read your writing and give you an honest opinion.
Having an honest evaluation of your work is a big step to silencing your critic so you can get serious writing done.
Think about your audience. I find that when I have a difficult time writing because I think my writing isn’t good enough that I’m thinking more about myself and not about my readers. Think about your readers and how your story will affect them.
Taking these first steps will help you look at your work more objectively and give you the freedom you need to finish your book.
Picture by [Vale]