How to Remain Sane and Write (part 2)

See part one here


Artists sauce:

Disclaimer: I don’t always practice what I preach, but I do preach what I hope to practice and what I genuinely belief will help!

In my first post on this subject I wrote about some reasons that writing is hard on the brain, since then I’ve worked out a few more things to avoid to keep your brain from actively escaping your skull:

Don’t Compare!

Comparison is natural thing to do, in fact its kind of necessary to vaguely make sure that we aren’t going completely nutso against the grain of society, that we aren’t letting ‘the team down’ so to speak and be able to relate to other people.

But it can definitely get out of control in many areas as well as writing. I’m sure its not a new thing that people can develop FOMO (fear of missing out) and downward spirals of negative comparisons when looking at others life, but I feel that this sort of thing has worsened since the profilication of social media. Now I can see just how many follows J.K. Rowling is, all the blogs dedicated to Game of Thrones, learn everything I wanted to know about E.L. James. In small doses this information isn’t too harmful but in mass amounts it gets hard to ignore.

The problem is that in writing in particular the race/journey is actually with ourselves. Too often us aspiring writers see getting published a bit like auditions for American Idol; and the existence of younger hotter more talented people makes us feel like our shot is getting further from a real possibly.

Truth is we’re all, all over the place. I see published writers who are miserable and full of regrets, I see fanfic authors who couldn’t be happier. Online I see people of all ages and all levels of writing with similar and different struggles, some people can’t find moments to write, some people are too full of anxiety to write anything. I guess my point is comparing yourself to anyone is fairly meaningless, BUT the more you do it the more likely you are to hurt yourself. Sure some people are highly competitive and thrive off getting ahead of others, in the end however negativity has a way of sticking worse than positives, and if writers spend too much time starting into the abyss of comparison sooner or later some younger, better whatever person is going to make you feel like arse.

Just to clarify I’m not saying to avoid other writers, or not getting to know them! What I’m saying is don’t look at others and measure them against yourself wondering whether you’re doing better or worse, the race is against yourself – to get better and better at your craft.

Be sensible with goals

Did I mentioned this one already?? Well something I’ve learn only recently about online blogging etc is anything worth saying is worth saying again, words aren’t one tricky ponies.

Anywho, when it comes to goals I’m a shocker. I don’t know if its a delusional imagination, or just a lack of predictive skills, but when it comes to setting word count or other material goals I tend to overblow it dramatically. Luckily for me I’m aware of this and know to either tone my goals down or not be too hard on myself if I don’t meet them. Of course there is slight catch-22 here where of course if you go easy on yourself for not meeting goals you might not do anything.

My advice on the subject is to set minimum and dream goals. This year I’ve finally managed to settle into a consistent writing routine (a goal which has eluded me for years) and I attribute this to having very achievable minimum goals. At first I just vowed to write anything at all towards my novel per day, then I set 500 words (which is a comparatively quick amount to produce if you’re vomit drafting) which I’m still maintaining today, allowing myself to stretch if I have the time and inclination.

At least that all works for me, we all have a different relationship with goals and progress, I recommend getting to know yourself and what works (I’ve definitely talked about this before surely?).

One final word on this topic – don’t reflect too hard on the length of time it takes to produce a novel length work. It’s hard to feel good about crawling and inching towards a big goal like a novel and you’re much better focusing on the behaviour that will lead to the eventual product not ruminating on the final goal overmuch.

Don’t seek compliments

I’m going to tell you something odd about compliments. They are only a dim reflection of your real worth, not to mention the ones you do get are probably not that genuine.

HUH? (Thomas are you saying I’m a jerk???)

Not at all! See here’s the thing. How often do you actually tell people the real genuine positive things you think about them?

And when it comes to writing how many times have you said nice things to writers because they’ve put you on the spot and/or you feel you have to say something nice to not hurt their feelings?

I could go on, I guess my key point is to realize that the quality of your work is not well communicated by the compliments you get. In fact oftentimes people will be more critical with work that is good than not.

Again: HUH??

Hear me out. When you critique a piece of work that’s a complete mess how often do you find yourself struggling to work out what even to feedback to the writer. Yet when you pick up a compelling work, the content is clear and exciting and prompts far more in depth consideration to critique a writer about.

Maybe I’m off on a tangent here. My overall point is that compliments feel really nice because we treat them as evidence of something good about ourselves, but the reality is there are probably dozens, millions of good things about you that people simply aren’t complimenting you about. So when it comes to writing don’t seek compliments, you’ll just feel disappointed when you don’t get them, and misled when you do. Not to mention other people will feel awkward AF when you shove your work under their nose and stand their like a puppy waiting for a treat.

I’m not saying that tough love critique is the only way to go, but just keep a good perspective on what compliments really are.


In general people seem to like this topic so it’s likely I’ll do a part 3 (using myself as a case study for the most part 😉

What ways do you keep your sanity intact as a writer, creator or artist?

What ways do you go nuts (forgive my un-PC language) on the subject?

Any thoughts on the topic in general, chuck us a comment!



One thought on “How to Remain Sane and Write (part 2)

  1. Pingback: Seeking Cures for the Drafting Woes | Lonely Power Poles

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