31 August 2009

When Those Voices Get Really Loud...

Does anyone else hear them or am I the only one?

Their attacks are so specific, so highly focused, so perfectly targeted, that sometimes I wonder if they really will take me out. Or at the very least, if they are right.

Do you hear them too?

They tell me that I can't really do this, that I'm fooling myself, that it'll be a lifelong pursuit of something that will never really happen. They call me a fake. They say that I should just give up now instead of doing all this work, instead of trying again. After all, it's going to take so much energy, so much time. And for what? Hours upon hours of writing, weeks of editing, crafting of queries, proposals, and waiting... for more rejections? And what if this is it? What if this is the last story I get? What if I don't get any ideas after this one?

This one still deserves to be written. This one needs my very best.

If only I knew what it was about!

I don't know where y'all are in your writing journeys, your confidence levels, or in your lives. I've been struggling. There's been the beginning of a story inside of me for a long time. Months, in fact. And it just isn't coming. I finally got a name the other night, which led to a few more ideas. I have all of these pieces, but I don't have a story yet. I don't have a setting. And other than one or two characters, I don't have the rest of the cast.

Tonight, I found myself thinking of my last manuscript, the one I poured my heart and soul into. I gave everything. I still believe in it, but I need a crit group or an editorial service, I think. Something to polish it off before I try/query again. As I stared at the notebook on my lap, with a page filled with scribblings of possibilities for my new story, scribblings that are going somewhere but not any time fast, I heard those voices again. This time they told me that my last story was my best one, that this one wouldn't match up. That I couldn't do it again. They reminded me of the story that came before that one and how much emotional energy it required. And then they said, "Why try this time? Why are you doing this?"

Honestly, it's been a while since I've written creatively. I've done a few nonfiction pieces this summer and of course, started this blog. I've written some for my support updates and did some promotional stuff for a missions organization, but I haven't worked on a Story in a while. I miss it. I'm in this weird period of waiting. Once all the scribblings make sense, the story will just pour out. It always happens this way. Until then, it's more waiting. And in the waiting, the voices get louder and louder.

This post is me telling those voices to "shut up."

If we focus so much on the final destination, it's easy to lose the pleasure of the process itself. It's fun putting all of those pieces together and having them work. Writing is fun. And if we solely find validation in publication, then it will be so easy to get discouraged. It's got to be about more than that. I can't control if I get on the shelves or not. I can control how hard I work at writing. I can do my best with what I have right now. I can be faithful in this moment and trust that God will take care of the rest.

Thanks to all of you who reminded me of that last week, with your comments and blog posts.

As to the rest of my Story, I would be pleased to make your acquaintance just as soon as you are so willing to grace me with your presence....

***Some of you have mentioned that you've had problems linking to me for some reason. I tried to fix it; hopefully it worked! Those of you who had problems, can you tell if it's fixed now? Thanks for pointing it out! I appreciate all the help I can get!


  1. Ugh! I hear those voices ALL the time. They DROWN my motivation! Lord help us press through! <3 you much! Writers for life!

  2. This is a great post! I hear those voices all the time. They've been really loud today for some reason, so thank you for the encouragement. I agree; if we focus on the end result, we miss out on all the joy of the journey!

  3. Your post really pegged me. I too struggle with the doubts but when I am writing there is such joy. If it only ends up being for me I guess it is worth it but that is not my goal. I want to touch a life or lives and make them better.

  4. James Scott Bell in his book, Plot & Structure has some awesome brainstorming ideas. If you haven't tried any, I would highly recommend them. I always find inspiration when I read a writing craft book. It never fails to get my creative brain working.

  5. Yes I hear the voices and I'm pretty positive more often than not they are coming from the Father of Lies. My thoughts...pray about your next work. Sounds weird, right? Pray about writing?
    Try it and then tell me if it was weird...and even if it felt weird if you don't find any answers afterwards.
    ~ Wendy

  6. I was just hearing that voice yesterday! Blech.

    I'm so glad you're getting pieces of a new one. :-) Editing services are very helpful. I used eharlequin once because I write romance and their review totally changed how I looked at my manuscript and how I fixed it. :-)

  7. I think it's a personality trait among writers - to hear that voice of doubt. I decided recently that I'm way too busy to listen though. When I have time, I sit down and write. When the book writing isn't going well, I brainstorm about blogging or catch up on some blogs I've missed. And if none of that is goes well, I take it as a sign and spend more quiet time with God.

  8. Good for you! Tell those voices to go away! I think doubt and worry and uncertainty and fear will always be a part of writing--at least for most of us. But it can really take hold in our lives if we start to believe it--start to agree with it.

    I know how you feel about missing writing the Story. After months of editing and working on other writing projects, I just want to lose myself in my WIP. It'll come--finding the patience is a little harder, though :D

  9. Thanks, Friends! Wendy, thanks for the reminder to pray! I needed to read that this morning.

    Jody, I just might have to check out that book. So many people have mentioned it online that it sounds like a good one to get. Thank you for the recommendation!

    Heather, the peace in your words just grabbed me.

    Cindy, thanks for the reminder not to agree with the voices. I definitely fall into that from time to time.

    Victoria, Need More Words, and LazyWriter, thanks so much for your encouragement! I'm glad this post helped you!

    Jessica, I'm excited about the editorial service. Now I just need the cash for it to fall in my lap!

    I'm glad I'm not alone, but I pray that y'all aren't discouraged by these voices either! Keep writing. Like Dorrie: "Just keep writing, just keep writing".

  10. We all hear them...I just try to shut them out. I used to really listen to them but what's the point? I think more than anything I read everyone else's anguish over writing and realize I must not be as talented because I don't anguish over everything. I just write...but then I'm not much of a perfectionist, which is probably why I'm not published yet! I'm blissfully ignorant.

  11. Not only do we have to shut those voices up we have to find something to replace them. It is great to have this online group of peers/friends to connect with, to tell you the truth, to encourage you to do what God has called you to do.

  12. Happened on your blog through a couple other blogs and I'm glad I did. I think I just simply love words and some of them tell stories and most of them at least turn into something. I have big goals about books, but I realized my little stuff delights me too. I was reading my posting history the other day and a thought came to me that I could possibly put a portion of every post and turn it all into a book! Ya never know what's up around the bend. Keep writing.

  13. Those voices roared in my head for a long time. I don't listen to them anymore. I just focus on each day and try not to worry about not being good enough. I will be at some point.

  14. Those voices get us all. Like you, I think I can't write anything better than the one I finished--that I poured all I had into it but really probably I didn't. We can always do better!

  15. I blogged about the Voice just last week. I think every writer battles doubt at times, but it sounds like you're talking back. Good for you! Here's to a rush of inspiration and a return of joy.

  16. I am just wondering how my voices got in your head!

  17. PakKaramu reading and visiting your blog

  18. Oh Kristen - you are not the only one who hears those voices. I'm glad you are telling them to shut up.

  19. yes, I hear those voiced daily. I have stopped telling them to shut up because they only got louder. Now I say, "Okay, you have been heard." And we all feel better. I don't have to agree with them, but I find them hard to stifle. I acknowledge that something inside me is scared or worried or otherwise bothered and it seems easier to just take a moment to acknowledge that than sit on the voice. And I am tired of sitting on me anyway. I am learning to love all parts of me, even those parts that whine or tell me I am not good enough. There is usually something behind those voices that needs addressing for me. Great post. Really got me thinking. Thanks for your comments on my blog. I have joined up to follow you :)

  20. Whenever I think more of me than I ought to those voices always start shouting. You're so right, we need to forget about publication and just enjoy the writing process to create our best work.

    I'm new here, so I'm wondering what genre you write, Kristen?

  21. Yes, I do hear them, and I echo what Eileen says. Part of those voices are just self-doubt and insecurity, which I think is a struggle for most writers. But we must be honest in recognizing the odds, too. Sure, those of us who study, blog, and keep abreast of the industry have a FAR better chance than those who simply scribble a novel, send off queries, and expect to make millions from their 400,000 word masterpiece about the vampire slaying tae kwan do nun and the handsome bus driver (heh). But still, it's wise to enjoy the journey and write for as long as God allows rather than worry about the results of our labors. No matter in what form, God will prosper our efforts--if not in publication, than in spiritual growth, friendships, etc.

    Great post, Kristen!

  22. Hi, Eileen! I write Women's Fiction that's set in the South. Thanks for asking!