I was checking through some blogs and found one that I felt spoke to me and I thought I’d share it with you to see if it resonates with you too. The original post was in Problogger and it’s a guest contribution by a psychologist, Dr Alice Boyes. You can read it here. Although the title of the post is: 5 Psychological Blocks that Stop Bloggers Going from Good to Great, I felt those apply to writers in general, and of course, many of us are also bloggers.
To summarise, Dr Boyes mentions five blocks to developing a blogger’s (read writer’s) career:
- Imposter Syndrome. You aren’t good enough, you aren’t really a writer, how can you compare with others, who are you trying to fool…This blocks you as you don’t feel you should reach to others whom you view as true… (bloggers, writers, authors…), or you don’t challenge yourself and put yourself to the test. Her suggestions of solutions include looking at the evidence, realising that this is just a thought (a negative thought indeed), asking yourself what would you be doing if you were the real deal and doing that, and understanding and giving yourself self-compassion. On the note of self-compassion, one of the things I used to tell my patients who came up with very negative comments about themselves was: what would you tell a friend, or somebody you knew, who came and told you what you’re telling me? Would you really think they were no good at what they were doing or not as professional…or whatever the issue was? Sometimes we are so much harder on ourselves than we are on others.
- Avoidance Coping. When you’re avoiding doing the things that should be your first priority by doing other less important things. I think we can all relate to this. I’m not pointing any fingers other than at myself. She suggests as solutions having a very simple to do list, putting limits on other tasks and being mindful of them (she suggest an App you can check although I’ve seen many advertised), and keeping a balance (80/20 anybody?).
- All-or-nothing Thinking. Everything should be done and done to perfection. Therefore as that is impossible, we give up completely on what could be a good idea. Although she doesn’t call it that, I think her suggestion for dealing with this would be ‘embrace the middle ground’ or ‘compromise’. If a task seems overwhelming, try and compromise on something workable you can do or break it in little chunks and do them at your own pace. Remember: Rome wasn’t built in one day.
- Running your Willpower Back to Empty. In talking about blogging Dr Boyes suggests that due to the many things one could do to ensure success at blogging, people might end up running round in circles, exhausting themselves and forgetting to take into consideration the big picture (the reason why we started doing something in the first place). And also losing sight of the goal (the doing becomes the end in itself). That’s also the case in writing and promoting/marketing. The amount of information, suggestions and new ideas are mindboggling. You can end up feeling like a hamster running on the wheel. She suggests shorter (microbreaks) and longer breaks, including disconnecting completely from the computer and going away, as that will give you a new perspective (the same most writers recommend doing once you finish your manuscript).
- Unwillingness to Tolerate Knockbacks. It doesn’t matter how well you do something, there will be people who don’t like it, or who think that it could/should be done differently. Dr Boyes says it’s important to build a level of tolerance (not insensitivity) to it, particularly if you’re prone to ruminating and overthinking what you could have done wrong. (She here recommends her book, but as I haven’t read it I won’t, although if the post is an example of what she offers, it might be worth a look). There’s much written about negative reviews and I think most of us know that however objective or neutral they might be (and not all are) they tend to feel personal because our books are our creations. As possible solutions she suggests: Expecting a 50% success rate rather than 100% (I guess we could call it redefining success). Also accepting your sensitivity rather than fighting against it and she recommends quick mindfulness meditations to help the negative thoughts pass quickly (with links). I have been meditating for over a year now, and although I’m sure it’s not for everybody (and I was’t very convinced it was for me) I’d say it has helped me.
Thanks so much to Pro Blogger and Dr Bloye for her article and inspiration, thanks to you all for reading, and let me know if you think those apply to writing too. And any tricks to deal with these or other blocks are welcome!