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Take the Scare out of these Writing Monsters

by Melissa Tagg

So today’s Halloween. I was never all that into the holiday…until my sister had a baby. Now I have an undeniable attraction to the Halloween costume aisle at Target.

But anyway, today feels like a good day to post about the “monsters” that scare away our productivity and confidence as writers. Here are the three that tend to most nip at my heels.

Impatience
Made to Last2
There is really no point in the writing journey at which impatience stops preying on us. We’re impatient to get an agent…then a contract…then to see the book in print… to get reviews…awards…another contract…more awards. Impatience is a relentless monster, ready to chip away at us in a constant rhythm if we let it.

How to Tame the Impatience Monster:

The best weapon against impatience I’ve found is a two-sided approach: 1) Look backward at all the times a season of waiting ended with the repeat realization that God’s timing is beyond perfect. A wait never seems so bad in hindsight. 2) Look forward at what’s to come. Sure, we may not know the details. But I think sometimes we get so entrenched in the present, buried in impatience, that we forget about things like hope and anticipation…which have a pretty sweet ability to dull the waiting game-induced bruises.

Marketing

Yeah, yeah, it’s the monster that chomps away at our time and uses up energy we could be putting towards our books and [insert every other marketing woe we’ve all heard…er, well, said]. But it doesn’t have to be scary.

How to Tame the Marketing Monster:

For me, marketing lost a lot of its bite once I had this revelation: If I really believe I’m meant to be a storyteller, that it’s actually a calling…then why run away from the idea of helping get my stories in the hands of readers? The balancing act is always going to be a challenge, but it’s a much more positive challenge when our perspective shifts.

Comparison

For me, this is the worst of all writing monsters. It’s that terrifying tendency to look at pretty much every other writer out there, compare myself and my own writing, and inevitably feel like I come up short. There’s no quicker way to freeze my writing progress.

How to Tame the Comparison Monster

One of the things I’ve learned to do when I’m tempted to let comparison get the best of me is to turn the tables on it by getting excited about the awesome writing out there. Instead of worrying about whether someone else’s story is oh-so-much better than ours, let’s ask ourselves what we can learn from it.

Our journeys are never going to look the same. Each author path has its own twists and turns. So comparing is never fruitful. But learning from each other? Intentionally admiring each other? That outsmarts comparison every time.

Melissa Tagg6Melissa Tagg is a former newspaper reporter and total Iowa girl. Her first novel, Made to Last, released from Bethany House in September. In addition to her homeless ministry dayjob, Melissa is also the marketing/events coordinator for My Book Therapy. Melissa blogs regularly and loves connecting with readers at www.melissatagg.com.

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9 Responses to Take the Scare out of these Writing Monsters

  1. Thanks, Melissa! Great post!
    And it’s nice to see Christians posting something positive on Halloween instead of just grousing about the negative things that can happen. :)
    I have all those writing monsters but my biggest is comparison. Both the way you mentioned, and on the opposite end: arrogantly seeing my own work as better than others & being frustrated that I don’t see more success. (Grrr!)
    Great tip to learn & get support from fellow writers to tame this monster. Everyone writes different stories in different styles, and we’re all learning at different levels. Better or worse, we all need to support and congratulate each other for every writing success!
    Have a great day!
    – RAD
    (:^D

  2. Great post, Mel!! Love the theme and how you connected it to Halloween. :) I’ve definitely struggled with all three of these monsters. Great ideas for chasing them away!

  3. Katrina says:

    This is a great post and good advice. I am not a writer, but I do write reviews. When I am writing a review for a series I tend to compare this book to the last in the series. I shouldn’t do that because each story is just that their own. Happy Halloween.
    Katrina

  4. Natalie Monk says:

    Love these tips! And that cover is beautiful! Thanks for sharing!

  5. Beth K. Vogt says:

    So much wisdom in this post, Melissa.
    And I love to tame the Monster of Comparison by c-e-l-e-b-r-a-t-i-n-g other writers. It is so much more fun to be joyful than to be jealous!

  6. Melissa Tagg says:

    @Randall, thanks for your comments! Yep, I think comparison likes to both all of us. Best thing we can do, I’m sure, is just turn it on its head and choose to get excited about other people’s success. I forget sometimes I do in fact have a choice about these things. Haha!

    @Lindsay, thanks, friend! :)

    @Katrina, ooh, I like the angle you come at this–from a reviewer’s perspective.

    @Natalie, thank so much for liking the cover. The artists at Bethany House rock!

    @Beth, thanks and man, you are so right–so much more fun to choose joy over jealousy.

  7. Ian says:

    Hi Melissa,

    Great tips, thanks. Yes, your perspective re: marketing is a good one. As much as I enjoy marketing, I’d prefer to market someone else’s novel and have someone do mine. I still struggle separating the product from the person. Something I need to get better at, unless I somehow come into a lot of money and can pay someone to do it for me. Ha!

    Thanks again, Melissa.

  8. Great tips. I’m dreading the marketing aspect, but with a little readjustment of my thinking process, maybe not.

  9. Becky Wade says:

    I enjoyed your post, Melissa! Thanks!

    I could relate to all of the ‘monsters’ you mentioned. :)