Monday, June 28, 2010

SABOTAGE: To Undermine a Cause

Angela James, Senior Editor of Carina Press, launched on June 7, 2010 spoke at the Southern Magic meeting on Saturday, June 26th, 2010 about E-pubs. It was an enlightening and motivational talk that made me truly look at E-pubs in a whole new light. I walked away with a new sense of purpose, and motivation to write and get things done.

Then I woke up on Sunday. Instead of writing, I did the dishes.


I have two capable minions (children) who have very little responsibility except to complete the few chores I give them, study, and get along without screaming (hmm, the last one is harder to manage). They could have done it.

I told myself I was being nice.

That's not true. I was sabotaging myself. I could have asked my children to do the dishes, and I could have sat down and worked on my revisions, but I did not.

Think about the times you took a class, saw a speaker, or went to a workshop or conference that motivated and inspired you. What did you do the next day?

Did you sabotage yourself? It's easy to spot, you have a few moments to write, but instead you do ANYTHING else but write. You do chores you could put off another day, or give to someone else .

Take a look at the list below. See if you did any of these things, or even thought about it:
  • Organize the junk drawer
  • Tackled that soap scum on the bathroom walls
  • Called someone you haven't spoken with in a month, or heck, just saw yesterday.
  • Picked up that book you are dying to read--or worse the one you put down three weeks ago.
  • You find watching grass grow absorbing
  • You follow all 250 twitters you belong to.
  • Find you need to update that face book page, each minute for an hour.
  • Then, you find your email, oh look, its that chain letter Aunt Maude sent, the one saying you must send to twelve others or the world will end and its up to you to stop it! And now you want to save the world.
  • Yesterday there was not a movie you wanted to see, and now you have to go see all of them!
  • Flipping through channels becomes something you desperately want to do.
  • You fold laundry
  • Nap
  • Think about going into the day job instead.
  • Do your nails (and you did them only a day ago)
  • OTHER: (Put your activity here)

Does this sound familiar? Than by stars, you are sabotaging yourself.



There are only two fears a writer has, both shape us in ways that define how we write:
  • Fear of Failure
  • Fear of Success

Fear of Failure: No one likes to be rejected, or told our lovely story is awful. But as a writer we know that WE have to face this. J.K. Rowling had dozens of rejections. Still she pressed on.

Still, getting that nasty critique from your contest entry can paralyze you. You start thinking, WHY do I do this to myself? Why not give up?

You can stop if you want, but do you really, really want to live your life with the "What if?"

I don't.

Fear of Sucess: This is far more nebulous. Here, you drag your feet querying, or submitting. You are not afraid of the rejection. You fear the success. Questions you ask yourself: What if I only have one story in me? What if I can't make the deadline? How do I work my life around it? What if they like it?

This to me, is far more insiduous. This is one we don't voice, even though we quickly admit our fear of failure.

Problem is, you won't be able to answer those questions if you don't step forward and take the chance. Look around, there are successful authors working hard on a wing a prayer.

It's not easy, but it can be done.

Do you want to never have these questions to face? Instead only having the "what if?"

Success is not about ignoring fear, but facing it again and again.

There is a choice to make, do you want to constantly undermine your cause (writing)? Or do you want to face it head on?

I know my answer. What is yours?


Anonymous said...

Much of this rings true, Em. I don't torture myself anymore. Cream rises to the top. If it don't rise then it ain't cream. I can live with that.

M.V.Freeman said...

That is true Mr. Valance,

You do have a way with words!

For me, in spite of self-sabotage you can rise above it. :-)

I am very glad you stopped by!


Jeanie said...

Excellent post, Mary. I think we all procrastinate at times. The butt-in-the-chair thing is hard, especially if you have a family. My house is a disaster, the laundry stays piled up and I don't cook like I used to because there's no time! And I, too, have two teenaged daughters. The youngest one (who is 14) is a tiny bit in shock because the Mominator has started asking her to do things like -- gasp! -- her own laundry. I feel guilty at times because I can't do it all . . . but I can't do it all.

You are allowed a day to flop every now and then. You have been very diligent in your writing the past few months. Don't beat yourself up. It happens. Just duct tape your hiney to that chair this week to make up for it.

JoAnn said...

What always throws me is that as soon as I start writing or revising, I keep saying "Why would ANYBODY want to read this? It's awful." And then I do any/all of the things on your list.

So Saturday evening and yesterday, I helped my husband clean overgrowth from our backyard. In the 90+ heat. With swarms of mosquitoes. And not-just-colonies-but-whole-continents of ants.

JoAnn said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
M.V.Freeman said...


I agree, you can't do it all. Although telling those around you that this is so, can be hard. (And I like that you have your 14 yr old do the laundry--its good for the soul! hee!~)

Duct tape has been measured. I am not afraid to use it on myself or anyone else...

And again, very much kudos to you! Almost done with that Novella! Yay you! I am quite inspired by you.


M.V.Freeman said...


I am here to encourage you to flee from the monstrous hordes of Mosquitos and ants!


But you know, I've done the same thing. Truly. You can do it!

I want to hear that rough draft is going to be done. I know Jennifer Echols takes on getting you to write (I need to find out more about that)--isnt it the blog of shame?

But I am thinking of assigning homework. (For example, I'll say 10 pages by Midnight Sat. Choose a friend to send it to--GO!--the friend can take a look at the pages or not for an impromptu critique, it will be up to you) I will do this after July 4th. Its going to be tough 10 pages is too EASY. I will have to think of a prize.....

Are you game?

(Anybody else is open to it too!)

Kat Jones said...

I'm definitely guilty of this!! I'm trying to work on better time-management, but still find myself doing something that could wait instead of writing.

I'm game for homework assignments! :)

M.V.Freeman said...

Excellent Kat!

I'm glad you are on board. :-)

And it is amazing how little things will eat into your time, especially when you thought.."Oh, this is nothing..."

Christine said...

I know of one published author who said when the days were bad, she'd iron her lingerie. I haven't gotten to that point, but I tend to want to dust and clean baseboards when I am stuck. I do the same thing JoAnn does when I revise : I am like, who would read this drek? But I plow on anyway.

Great post!

M.V.Freeman said...

The day I take out the laundry to iron is the day that I need intervention....I never iron.

I have the same feeling..who would want to read this? But I'm going to finish the revisions, just to prove to myself I can.

Heather said...

You really need to remove your spy-cam from my life! This post was dead on my Sunday as well! My self-defeating behaviors feed off of one another - I use housework to procrastinate writing until I get to the point of heinous chores (mopping - trust me, in a house full of cats there is nothing worse), then I decide to "write" (check email, check facebook, check twitter - oh wait - it is now snack time). As a result, I have little writing done and dirty floors. Oh, the humanity.

Great post!

Angela said...

Thank you for being brave and mentioning the fear of success! As stilted as it may seem, I was guessing that everyone has to at least entertain a case of the future success 'what ifs'. What if people I know(or used to know) think I modeled that character after them? What if I offend people and end up getting hate mail? What if the second book I try to churn out sucks and I turn into a one-hit-wonder butt of every joke? What if my kids read this one dayand loose all respect for me? What if I'm so popular I loose all entitlement to privacy or end up with a stalkler? What if I get trampled my unstable fans at my own book signing? (Okay, maybe that's a touch dramatic.)

Ah, how we are our own worst critics and enemies. I thought when I decided to stay home with my spawn that I would have plenty of time to direct towards my writing. Ha! Domestic duties aside, I always manage to come up with additional projects that I try to justify as helpful in a round about way. The painting I'm working on is stimulating to my creative side...the fourteen scrabble games I have going on facebook are a good writing warm up for keeping me sharp. Yeah, right. I'm not even fooling me anymore!

I love the homework idea! I think it's hardest when no one but you is expecting anything out of you. In school I always worked well on a deadline. It was stressful, sure. But hey, show me a completely stress-free human being and I'll have to point out that they also happen to be dead. :D

M.V.Freeman said...

I despise mopping floors and I'm eyeing them for friday.

See you would be perfect for the homework have to make it important to you to write.

It is amazing how our behaviors hinder us.

So how many cats do you have? (I have one, and we are at a stand-off LOL)

M.V.Freeman said...

You had me snickering at fans trampling you...and that you have spawn. I like the words you use.

It is also amazing that there is so much we allow to distract us (I must confess I've had to delete spider solitaire from my computer before..and Ma jong..)

I also think the homework idea is perfect for you, if you are willing I will see what I can do (see if I can post it here..LOL)


Stern Rake Studio said...

I've also heard "self sabotage" described as "creative avoidance."

And you can't get any more creative than ironing lingerie! :)

Of course, I'm only guessing...


M.V.Freeman said...


I have to admit...I agree with you.

Hmm..what kind of creative avoidance do you participate in?