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Dianne Salerni : Writer of Teen and Middle Grade Fiction | Dealing with Your Inner Crybaby

Dealing with Your Inner Crybaby

Yes, I am blood kin to this face.

I know I’m not the only writer who suffers from confidence issues — because I read about this on everybody else’s blog, too. There are times when the path seems too hard, too steep, too twisty, and I don’t feel up to the challenge.  I end up whining a lot to myself, putting myself down, and making up excuses why this (no matter what this is) is never going to work.

One of my strategies for dealing with the problem is writing all my complaints down, no matter how whiny they sound.  Then, a more rational part of my brain responds to each and every complaint.  After awhile, Inner Crybaby looks pretty silly, even to me.

Here’s my latest batch:

This WIP is a horrible mess.  My world-building is sketchy and inconsistent.
That’s what Drafts 2-5 are for: finding all the inconsistencies and working them out. You had the same problem with tangled clues in CG and technical details in V. You worked them out in later drafts.

I’m not used to writing stories like this.  I should never have attempted a new genre.
Because no one ever improved their craft by trying something new, right?

The word count is out of control. It’s a bloated monster.
Then it’s a good thing you know how to wield a delete key.  There’s plenty of things that will need to be cut, and you may even have learned a thing or two from your Clarion editor on the matter.

I was crazy to set the climax in a famous location I’ve never seen in person.
That’s why your darling husband is taking you there this summer. Give him a big kiss.

What if I get there and discover events can’t possibly take place as planned?
Change your plan to fit the place.

I don’t have the expertise to pull off an armed showdown between the good guys and the bad guys.
You’ve got a retired federal officer on Phone-a-Friend.  Larry offered to help.  He just wants a map, photos, and a run-down of resources on both sides.  He’ll plot a tactical solution AND help you with all the gun stuff.

But it’s gonna be hard!!!!
Ah, now that’s the real problem, isn’t it.  The truth comes out.

My Crybaby List always ends this way.  I want it to be easy.  And it’s never going to be easy.  But it might be manageable.

Do you have something to add to the Crybaby List?  Make your complaint in the comment section, and I’ll respond with Rational Brain!

23 Responses to Dealing with Your Inner Crybaby

  1. Sarah says:

    This post is awesome. It’s a classic example of understanding the insidious whispering of “the sneaky brain” and using your “smart brain” to challenge the cognitions that could otherwise cause creative paralysis.

  2. Linda G. says:

    Aww. Cute pic!

    I think you covered all my major whines. Good answers to them. 🙂

  3. This is an excellent idea. I’ve got some major crybaby issues going and I’m ready to shelve the book because of them. I’ll have to try this out.

    Love your response to the word count one. 😀

  4. mshatch says:

    I feel almost exactly the same way! I’m writing something I’ve never attempted (contemporary, first person, no magic/wizards/demons/history – agh!), my word count is too low, and I don’t know if I can pull off the ending I envision even though I’m only a couple of thousand words away from it. Luckily, I have this awesome CP who keeps pushing (sometimes shoving, sometimes scolding) me in the right direction 🙂

  5. T. Drecker says:

    You got my whine covered! It was great to read the response and be pushed back in the right direction.

  6. You know, it’s very revealing that most of us have the same whiny complaints. And somehow reassuring that our “problem” is just common insecurity and totally overcome-able.

    Marcy, I don’t know who your CP is, but you should tell her to stop being so bossy! ;D

    As for the ending you envision, you’ll find that the vision will adapt itself as you get closer and closer to it until it becomes what it’s supposed to be.

  7. This is awesome. I need to do this and you have hit a lot of my crybaby whines.

    Why can’t I get things right and I’ll never be good enough are my two main ones.


  8. TC Avey says:

    you hit ’em, thanks for the perspective!

  9. <3 <3 <3 (*wah wah wah*)

  10. But I have no idea where this story is goooing!!!!

  11. Christine, that’s why we get so many drafts, trying to get it right! And as for being good enough — good enough for what? Many people think Twilight wasn’t good enough to be such a colossal hit, but it was. “Good” depends on who’s looking and what they want.

    Krystalyn, that’s the fun of letting your characters lead the way! Don’t worry. You can have control back in Draft 2.

  12. LTM says:

    Haha! “It’s going to be hard.” Yep. That’s usually the root of all the evil, isn’t it?

    I do the same thing sometimes, and I always get the same result. Once you actually write these silly mind messages down, looking at them, they’re so silly! 😀

    Hang in there, Dianne! You can do it!!! <3

  13. Julie Dao says:

    HAHA! I love this post, Dianne. I can be a huge crybaby when it comes to writing. “But I don’t wanna cut out the backstoryyyyy…. whyyyyy?!”

  14. This is a fantastic idea!

  15. DL Hammons says:

    Am I trusting the potential reader too much by not explaining some of these plot points more? Will they be scratching their head and saying..”huh?” Should I dumb-it-down more?

    There you go…get to work Dr. Dianne! 🙂

  16. Julie — Sometimes you write stuff into the manuscript that you *needed* and *wanted* to write. Later on, it gets cut because the reader doesn’t need to know it and it interrupts the flow. I always say, at least I got the fun of writing it before I cut it!

    D.L. — Go with your instincts. Your beta readers will let you know if you’ve left too much out, or if you’re beating them over the head with the obvious.

  17. Jenny Morris says:

    Oh man, I need to make a crybaby list. LOL. It might make me feel better.

    Yay for your husband taking you to a location in your book. I’m trying to get my hubby to take me to London for the same reason.

  18. E. Arroyo says:

    I have my kids to put me straight. They can be brutally honest when I need them to be…or when it’s convenient for them. =)

  19. My crybaby whine is about how summer is killing my writing schedule. We got a puppy today, too. She’s adorable, but it makes it hard to get any real writing done when I’m housebreaking a puppy who needs to go out all the time.

  20. Erg, Kelly — that’s a hard one. I suppose Rational Brain would say you need to do what I do when it’s NOT summer vacation: Set definite hours for writing and get the family to buy into it. In my house, the family knows that 7:30 to 9:30 on Mondays is Mom’s time to write. I also claim 2 hours blocks at other, floating times of the week, and they work around me.

    Of course, my kids are 12 and 15 and we have no puppy. It’s harder with the younger crowd.

  21. Oh, I need a crybaby list. Badly. The problem is, I send these to OTHER PEOPLE, and they tell me all the stuff you’re telling yourself. Maybe I should fix that… Ha!

  22. Tonja says:

    I try to take the advice I would give to my kids if they were feeling insecure about whatever they are doing. Getting good at anything takes work – lots of work – and confidence. I love the picture!

  23. I tell myself – okay, just once pick a location you are familiar with or that is completely made up! I love research but some place I just can’t get to! 🙂