If you’re a writer, you’ve been there. Or at least, you should have at least once. If you haven’t then I bow down to your awesomeness.
So where is “there”?
That back and forth feeling of utter ecstasy in your writing to the moments where you want to delete your computer files and then set it on fire because that’s how bad your writing sucks.
Yep. If you’re an writer, you’ve been there.
Most of the time Writer Whiplash is brought on by a bad review.
Some nobody—a stranger—posts a few bad words on a public page about how your plot lacked depth, was unrealistic, or your characters lacked real emotions. Perhaps they even went on to say that your writing was boring or bursting with typos.
Whatever the reason for their harsh comments, they have just, not only ruined your day, but have crushed any motivation for you to open up your current work-in-progress.
You start to question why you even began writing and why you continue to do it. You start finding ways to distract yourself so that you don’t have to face the fact that you are trying to distract yourself, all while knowing you need to write.
Of course, with these lowest of lows, the flip side of Writer Whiplash is the highest of highs. Just like the bad reviews, good reviews can send you in a state of euphoria that can kill writers block and cause your fingers to fly across the keyboard as you pen your next masterpiece.
During those days you can’t sit in front of your computer long enough because all you want to do is write. Screw doing laundry, screw washing dishes, screw making dinner for your family, you lock yourself into a corner of the house and work until your fingers can only pray they fall off just so they can get a break.
Ah, yes, the ups and downs of being a writer.
I suppose that’s the beauty of it all, though. The reasoning behind the madness. Nothing in life has ups but never downs. Nothing in life doesn’t bring you joy without some heartache. The term “I love you, but right now I don’t like you.” comes to mind.
So what are the steps to help overcome “Writer Whiplash”?
DON’T LET YOUR INNER CRITIC HAVE ITS SAY
Stop those pesky words of “I can’t.” or “I’m not any good.” or “This book sucks. No one will ever read and enjoy it.” Seriously. Just stop. Delete them from your mind and don’t utter them from your lips. This step might be hard, but make an active choice not to allow yourself to think or say anything negative about you or your novel.
“What if I fall? Oh, my darling, what if you fly?”
AVOID THE COMPARISON TRAP
For the love of all that is holy if you don’t follow any of the other tips, follow this one. Stop comparing yourself, your books, and your sales to another author. Even if they are in the same genre. Even if they have the same number or less of books out than you. Even if they have similar stories. Just stop! Some people in life just seem to catch a break, sprinting ahead while others navigate the hard waters of trying—and failing—to get noticed. That’s just life. Comparing yourself isn’t going to make you write better and it’s not going to boost your sales. Instead of envying them from afar, maybe get to know them. You never know what can come of the friendship. Maybe they can even help you.
UNDERSTAND WHAT YOU ARE FACING IS NORMAL
While there may be authors out there who don’t go through “Writer Whiplash”, know that for most, what you are feeling and dealing with is normal. I’ve heard from NYT Best Selling authors that even they have anxiety about a new release and if their readers will like it or hate it. Experiencing self doubt doesn’t mean that you should stop writing or that you aren’t cut out for this career we call author. It just means you’re human.
So darling followers, do you get writer whiplash? If so, how do you deal with it? And, if not, what is your secret?