Wednesday, March 2, 2016

6 Ways to Break the Habit of Insecurity #IWSG

All writers will experience a level of insecurity at some time--some more than others, some more frequently than others. It’s a natural and inevitable part of being a writer. However, this feeling of insecurity can become a repeating beastie that lurks around for too long and inhibits your creativity until your writing comes to a shuddering stop. It can become so bad that the moment you sit down to write, the insecurity flares up again. This is bad. And this is what happens when your insecurity has become a habit.

It’s time to break the habit of insecurity, and below are 6 ways that might help:

1. Recognise it’s a habit not an addiction, and that means the problem isn’t insurmountable, no matter how dark those insecurities feel. Plus, knowing there’s a fixable problem is the first step to making a change.

2. Learn what triggers your insecurities. If reading reviews turns your insecurities into a bad rash, then stop reading those reviews. If the glare of a blank page is the trigger, then try filling that page as fast as possible, allowing yourself to put down complete rubbish. At least then the page won’t be blank anymore and you’ll be able to get on with editing. If it’s an insensitive critique partner, then have a conversation with that partner, or find another one.

3. Change your environment. This one works like a dream for me. Often it’s just the cue of sitting at your computer and opening the document that’s enough to trigger a multitude of insecurities. Try changing where you write, even how you write. Try writing in a different room, or at the local coffee shop or park. Try handwriting for a while or dictation.

4. Schedule your writing time. This needs some discipline. Set a specific time to write every day and stick to it—even if it’s only 15 minutes a day. But make sure you spend that time writing. This does not include checking your social media, going through your emails, researching, staring at the monitor, or anything else you might’ve used to justify not writing.

5. Stop focusing on the negatives, i.e., how much you didn’t achieve, how you got a one star review, how your critique partner didn’t love that scene you thought was gold, how little time you got to write, how few words you scratched out this week. Start focusing on the positives, i.e., how much you did achieve, how much you love writing, how you got an awesome four star review, how you kept writing despite those insecurities nipping at your heels. Train your thoughts, so when you start to feel insecure, you won’t let it continue, or at the very least, you won’t be debilitated by those insecurities.

6. Be kind to yourself and take it slow. Don’t expect the immediate disappearance of insecure thoughts. Insecurity is what we do as writers. It’s part of the creative self. If those insecurities come screaming back—and they will—don’t flog yourself over another perceived failure. Just continue to work through it

Know that all habits can be broken with a little work and discipline. They may not break at the snap of a finger, but over time you can form a new positive way of thinking which will aid your creativity, not hinder.

How do you work through insecurities?
 

This post was written for the Insecure Writer's Support Group. We post on the first Wednesday of every month. To join us, or learn more about the group, click HERE.

100 comments:

  1. Number #3 jumped off the page. A change of environment is what I need.
    I've been promising myself that I'm going to try writing in different locations. I live close to the sea/wharf which has plenty of cosy writing spots to choose from.
    Happy IWSG Day, Lyn!

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    1. Yeah, changing the environment works wonders for me.

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  2. Habits are hard to break no matter what they are, and I'm not the most disciplined of writers. I'm having trouble with #4. I was supposed to write 1000-words Tues, but spent about 6 hours writing my ISWG post and working social media to send people to my cover/vote page. Plus, glued to the US's voting on CNN. Return commenting's gonna eat up time the rest of the week. And for ONCE, I really like my new WIP & actually want to write daily. *sigh* Well, thee's always next week...

    Thanks so much for stopping by my blog. Lots of my book-cover tips came from you, so if they're good, it's because of you!! <3

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    1. Ha, thanks Lexa.
      Plus, I personally find it easier to stick to a weekly word count goal rather than a daily one. Some days are simply filled with other stuff we can't ignore. When that happens, I can make up the words on another day.

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  3. Scheduling my writing time helps me blaze through insecurities. If I know I have to do t, I do it without thinking about anything else.

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    1. Exactly, and over time you can actually train yourself to get into writing mode as soon as the scheduled time hits. It gets easier.

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  4. Change your environment... pfftt.. easy for you to say, cruise lady :)

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    1. Ha, I usually just work in a different room in the house. It's a lot cheaper than a cruise (but less fun).

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  5. These are great tips, not only to deal with insecurities about writing, but also about insecurities about other things too.

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    1. Thanks, Natalie. And you are right, these tips can be used for any type of insecurity.

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  6. Great tips Lyn! Wouldn't it be great not to feel insecure about anything, but I fear that's an impossibility!

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    1. It is a shame we can't abolish insecurities altogether, but since we can't we need to accept them and push through anyway.

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  7. There's a book called Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway. We need to take action to push back the fear.

    I like #3. I'll grab my notepad and go sit in another room or at the dining room table to write.

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  8. Excellent post! Numbers 5 and 6 are my favorites.

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  9. #4 and #6. I am learning them during the time I'm taking a break from writing at all. Great post!

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  10. Great tips indeed. I learned to just get done what I can get done and that is that.

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  11. These are great ideas! I've never consciously thought about how I pull myself out of my insecurities. So for #2, if querying is the trigger, should I stop? LOL I really like #5, to stop focusing on the negatives. Plenty of those--but it's way better to focus on the positives!

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    1. Ha, maybe take a short break from querying, but ultimately you still want the benefit from querying, so that means pushing through and focusing on your end goal. If you aren't in it, you can't win it ;)

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  12. All awesome advice, Lynda. I find that getting away from the digital world and playing in the real world takes my mind off any discouraging thoughts. Sunshine and exercise do wonders.

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    1. Oh gosh, I really should have added that point, because it really does help wash those fearful thoughts away. Sunshine, exercise and good healthy food. Basically living life to its fullest.

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  13. Excellent advice! I am making an effort to concentrate at least as much on the positives as the negatives and I feel it's starting to work.

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  14. You know all of your tips and suggestions work; I've tried most of them. However, I would add one more and that is when all of the above don't work, find yourself a nice quaint cafe and have a latte or a coffee and let your mind wander until you find yourself back into your writing project.
    Shalom,
    Patricia

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    1. The daydreaming mind is good for the writer. That's a whole post in itself.

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  15. All of these are great advice. I'm working on #5 a lot these days, but I'm keeping your other ones in mind. I could benefit from paying attention to them.

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    1. Focusing on the positives make a huge difference.

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  16. Scheduling time is important. I have to make sure I get at least a little writing in every day (or almost every day) or I feel lousy. The other things I can live with, but I always need to feel like I'm productive and moving forward somehow.

    IWSG March

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    1. I need that same feeling of productivity too. But I'm easily distracted, so scheduling really works for me too.

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  17. I deal with my insecurities by ignoring them for as long as I can. I've found that no matter how insecure I feel one day, when I wake up the next day I'm blissfully, naively secure again. Like the previous day never happened. Don't know why, but it's what works for me.

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    1. It's all about finding what works for you.

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  18. Hi Lynda. The best way I know to conquer my insecurities is to schedule time and refuse to give it up for anything. I love all your tips. Thank you.

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    1. Yes, refusing to give it up is a powerful motivator.

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  19. Wonderful list, Lynda. For me, the #5 is especially relevant. I tend to fixate on the negatives. I should break the nasty habit. :)

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    1. Negativity is so destructive. The more you practice positivity, the easier it becomes.

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  20. Very good list. Once while in therapy my husband's therapist said to him that habits can be talked to, as if talking to another person. That they need to be thanked for their help in the past, but that they are no longer needed and they can move on. It's funny, but actually saying that out loud really worked for him and for me! Because we were both ready for new habits but the old ones didn't want to let go, so you have to "talk them into it." Thanks, and thanks for visiting my blog...

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    1. Oh gosh, I hadn't heard of that advice before, but I really like it. I'll have to give it a try the next time insecurity rears up.

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  21. Great ideas and suggestions! My go-to resource is the Nike slogan: "Just do it." When I tell myself that, it pushes everything else aside and lets me get down to business.

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  22. Changing locations often gets me really going on a new manuscript or when I'm stuck.

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    1. It's such an easy thing to do, yet it's so effective.

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  23. Number five is a tough one for me to overcome. I let those negative voices have too much space in my head sometimes.

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    1. I do too and I have to remind myself to change it up and think positive. Sometimes I even have to say it out loud, just to kick start the change of thinking.

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  24. Great advice. You are up there with Yoda, "Do or do not, there is not try." Like the list. Somehow seeing a list always organizes the mind preparing you to take the first step.
    Juneta @ Writer's Gambit

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  25. Recognizing that it's a habit and not an addiction... That is powerful! I've been struggling with this, lately. I keep saying I'm in a rut, but I think I've formed a habit of beating up on myself. Thanks so much for writing this. I've been thinking about trying #3. I think I will.

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    1. Changing my environment works really well for me. I hope this helps.

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  26. The last two are super important to me. They really help me get out of my slumps when I'm feeling insecure.

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    1. It's great you know what works for you.

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  27. I calm myself with the truth that what I fear never happens as bad or as terrible as I imagine ... if at all! :-) Thanks for the nice thing you said on Alex's blog about my music. :-)

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    1. You are most welcome. And you are right, what we fear rarely equates to the anxiety we put ourselves through in anticipation.

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  28. These are great tips. I've felt overwhelmed by insecurities before, and I focus on the positive, throw myself in a new project, and surround myself with great people. I have a set amount of writing time during nights and weekends. I also make sure my desk area and email are clean, so I won't use that as an excuse not to write.

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    1. Surrounding oneself with great people should be a point on its own. Support makes a huge difference. I also like your point about a clean work space.

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  29. Great suggestions. I'll be implementing a few of those. I don't know if we can completely get rid of our insecurities but we shouldn't let them rule us.

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    1. I honestly don't think we can completely get rid of insecurities. They will always rise again. But as you said, what is really important is making sure those insecurities don't rule us.

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  30. Be kind to myself... A lesson I must learn. Sometimes I say things to myself I'd never dare say to anyone else. That has got to stop. :-)

    Anna from elements of emaginette

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  31. Great Inspiring Post as always, Lynda!!!!! Thank You, I needed that!!!

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  32. Lynda, this is good advice for many things:

    6. Be kind to yourself and take it slow.

    I like your entire list, and this is my favorite.

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  33. You give some great tips. It's never good to let those insecurities bog you down. If things feel too overwhelming lessen your load or get some help.

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    1. Getting help is one I should've added as its own point. Thanks for mentioning it :)

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  34. Learn what triggers your insecurities: This is really key for me. It's hard one since sometimes the negativity is inside my head, but it can come from too much twitter time or in general focusing on others and their success vs working on my own writing. Thanks for a great post.

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    1. Yeah comparing ourselves with others rarely ends well.

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  35. I'm all about #3! I need to write elsewhere, otherwise my discipline slides south *looks for discipline under the couch*

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    1. It might be hiding in the fridge too. That's where mine sometimes hides, so don't forget to check there ;)

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  36. It's definitely a mental thing. It's good to recognise that we'll always make mistakes too and let ourselves do that - part of being kind.

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    1. Exactly right. When we expect too much from ourselves--or the impossible--then we aren't going to get far.

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  37. Number two is for me. I know I don't think about the why as much as about how horribly insecure I feel. I need to stop and find those triggers. Thanks, Lynda, for reminding me.

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  38. Changing your environment is the one that worked best for me and I discovered this by accident. I was stuck waiting for my son one afternoon while he completed a makeup assignment for school. I was in my car and searched everywhere for my phone to pass the time on social media, of course. I almost went into panic mode when I realized I'd left the sucker at home. I mean how in the world did we live before mobile phones, because I'm from the generation that did quite fine without them. So, I snatched my kids notebook from the passenger seat, uncapped his pen and started scribbling. I mean I had nothing else to do. An hour and a half later my son banged on the car window and woke me from a trance. I was so deep into my storyworld that I'd lost track of time and place. When I got home that night and read what I'd written I remembered why I wanted to write that particular story and I felt such renewed energy that I couldn't wait to write more. I started my writing ritual of writing in the parked car each day. I have no distractions from my kids or the dogs and no phone calls or doorbells to disturb me. I often wonder what people think when they see me parked in the same spot for such a long time. I don't even want to imagine the ideas that could go through their head. I try and vary my writing spots. Thanks for sharing these ideas. Someone else recommended the book Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway. I second that recommendation.

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    1. I love your story on how you discovered a new way to write. Finding the right environment makes such a huge difference. And mixing it up helps so much. Those distractions can be terrible.

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  39. #4 and #5 are huge helps for me. I need scheduling, and I've learned to start writing down my accomplishments for the day in a journal. Otherwise, in the evening all I see is what I didn't get done.

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    1. Using a journal to document daily accomplishments is a great idea.

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  40. Number 3 would do it for me, and something to boost my energy level.

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  41. Learning triggers is a definite necessary for most strong emotional issues. Such good advice. I use that a lot myself!

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  42. Lynda, the best thing you said in your blog post was that "All writers will experience" insecurity about their writing sometime. That alone helps writers feel that they can overcome this. Oh...your tips are great, too! Thank you for this.

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    1. Knowing it's perfectly normal really does help :)
      Thanks, Victoria

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  43. Being kind to oneself and taking it slow...man, that is something I need to work on. Good advice:)

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  44. Such excellent advice! I have to remember to stop focusing on the negatives.. I often wonder why I'm taking so long!

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  45. Negativity only makes a person more negative. If you believe you won't do something right, you probably won't. Nive post today, Lynda.

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    1. Thanks, Lee. And you are right, negativity has a way of taking over.

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  46. Hello dear Lynda. Great tips - especially changing your environment and stopping the focusing on negativity.

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  47. Awesome tips. We really have to put all these into practice to succeed. Thank you Lynda.

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  48. Thank you for the excellent advice. I especially like changing my environment, as it always clears my head.

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  49. What wonderful advice for all of us. You're correct. We're all a bit insecure. I found writing everyday at a specific time really helped me to move my writing projects along. And wonders of wonders, I discovered I really looked forward to it after awhile and felt cheated when I missed that appointment with the laptop.

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