Overcoming Self-Doubt When Writing

Many writers and artists of all types would agree that they are their own worst critics. It is a completely normal (though unhealthy) habit to doubt anything that you put a great amount of effort into, as you often strive for perfection. Though ‘perfect’ is fairly hard to come by, creating a piece of work that you take pride in and are excited to share with the world is not. The trick is to silence that voice in the back of your mind telling you that it’s not good enough.

Writing especially can drum up a cluster of emotions that may deter you from continuing. With how much people rely on social media for validation today, that introduces an entirely new facet of acceptance that many come to crave in order to merit their work as worthy. Constantly checking to see if your blog that you just published is receiving ‘likes’ or being commented on can create an unhealthy dependence that will only hurt your chances of improving as a writer.

A great way of finding a trustworthy source of reviewers is by taking part in a writing group, whether in person or a verified online community. Sharing your work with other writers that may have more experience than you can provide you with not only valuable feedback, but lessons learned and tips you can apply to future projects. Working alongside fellow writers is a great way to build confidence and offer helpful insight into your current writing strategies and techniques, but keep in mind that being open to critique is of utmost importance for yourself as a writer.

Another highly efficient way to silence that doubtful voice in your mind is to turn off notifications on platforms that you may be posting to (as pointed out by Terri Kue on Medium). Waiting for and expecting a certain number of ‘likes’ or comments on your post is a great way to set yourself up for disappointment, whether you’ve posted on Facebook, WordPress, or Instagram. Perhaps your audience hasn’t had a chance to read it yet, but the fact that your work hasn’t immediately gone viral can eat away at you and become nothing more than a source of stress.

Start working on your next piece immediately after posting your latest work. Get your mind off the fact that it is out there waiting to be read. The anxiousness that follows is never worth your time. Focus your attention elsewhere, particularly on another blog, story, or poem. Keep pushing forward with and explore different techniques or strategies. Paying attention to how well received your last work was will only prevent you from growing as a writer.

Becoming a great writer takes time. Impatience can hinder improvement, and doubting yourself throughout will belittle your confidence. Understand that there’s only one path to becoming a better writer, and that is simply by writing more. Seeking validation via social media is not an effective way to measure your talents. Silence that doubtful voice and know that as long as you are passionate about your craft, improvement will come.

Originally posted on LeonardRaymundo.com

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3 of the Most Unique yet Successful Marketing Tactics

Cards Against Humanity

By now, most people have experienced the vulgarity and outrageously humorous card game Cards Against Humanity. The premise is to match one of your white cards with the given black card to create the funniest possible phrase or sentence. The ensuing results are a mix of hilarity and awkwardness. This game alone is enough to attract quite a wide audience, but the marketing team at Cards Against Humanity didn’t want to stop there. One of their more unique tactics employed involved actually increasing their prices on Black Friday. CAH went against the traditional decrease in price like every other business, and managed to earn just as much, if not more sales than the Black Friday prior to that year’s. The company has sort of prided itself on going against the norm in terms of advertising, and it seems to pay off nearly every time.

Volkswagen

Car companies in the early 20th century advertised their automobiles with a typical standard that can be seen all over the world: better performing than the rest. However, Volkswagen took a different approach in 1960. The “Think Small” campaign was arguably one of the most successful and controversial car advertisements during that time, and is still seen as a standard in the history of marketing. During this time, many Americans avoided the small, German-made cars following the United States’ issues with the country, so Volkswagen played off of just that. This was a perfect example of selling your product for exactly what it is, and not pretending to be anything else.

Snickers

One of the most satisfying candy bars out there, Snickers targeted their slogan after exactly that. “Snickers Satisfies” was the company’s slogan up until 2010, when they launched one of the most successful rebranding campaigns in candy bar history. As the first commercial aired during the first break of Super Bowl XLV, Snickers took advantage of this spotlight to launch their new slogan “You’re not you when you’re hungry.” The commercial featured senior stars Betty White and Abe Vigoda as two representations of fatigued football players, taking hard tackles throughout the game. Upon eating Snickers bars, they effectively become “themselves” again. The humor incorporated greatly benefitted the company, as global sales following the ad campaign increased by 15.9%.

How to Spark Your Creative Genius

Losing your sense of creativity or simply failing to find the inspiration needed to to create the best work possible is something all writers face. It can be frustrating and debilitating, which can lead to a forced piece of written material lacking in passion. If you as a writer are struggling to get in touch with your inner creative genius, just know that everyone goes through the same thing, even the best of us. Consider any of the following strategies to wake that sense of imagination and originality.

Understand and Practice Monotony

This seems entirely counterintuitive, but taking part in an activity, or not, that is mundane and downright boring can lead to a wandering mind. A study published on Sage Journals stated that this mindlessness and attempt to subconsciously entertain one’s self can actually promote creative thinking. Some monotonous tasks you could take part in include cleaning your house or work area, counting the number of items on your desk, or simply staring at a wall! Don’t get too excited.

Void Yourself of Distractions

All writers seek to eliminate distraction to some extent, so this is nothing new, but it can do wonders for your creativity. Depending on the area in which you prefer to write, make sure any televisions are off, your phone is on silent, and you are left with nothing but your thoughts. This free-thinking mindset will spark thoughts that you may not have been able to access with distractions or background noise.

Fill the Room With Distractions

I know what I said. While eliminating all possible distractions is a good way of promoting creativity, conversely, distracting yourself with a variety of activities can have the same effect. When you are deeply focused on a single task, your brain effectively ignores all other stimuli around you, which can limit your mindset to that one specific project. Actually delving into the distractions around you can spark ideas for a number of different solutions to one problem. Read a magazine, listen to music, or watch a brief amount of television to get the creative juices flowing.

For the entire blog and more, check out my site LeonardRaymundo.com!

5 Ways to Overcome Writer’s Block

Stop me if you’ve heard this before. Your calendar just cleared for the weekend, and that excitement of sitting down to write starts to build. You wake up, make your coffee, walk your dogs, before finally opening up your laptop with the intention of using your time to hammer away at that manuscript you’ve talked about since forever.

Except, when it comes time to actually move your fingers to start writing, you hit a wall. You stare at that blank word document, searching for answers that may or may not come.

It’s a feeling that all writers have come across at some point. With writing inevitably comes moments of stagnancy where you feel as though every ounce of creativity you ever had has been completely exhausted. Writer’s block affects almost everyone whose interests lie within a pen and paper. This temporary inability to think can be caused by fear of critique, wanting to create something perfect, or simply a lack of motivation. Here are a few techniques to aid in getting out of this creative slump.

Get up and move

It may seem simple, but going for a leisurely stroll around the block can do wonders for one’s mental clarity. Walking and physical activity in general reduces stress, relieves anxiety, and boosts creativity. If there happens to be inclement weather that day, try yoga, or other meditative practices. The trick is to clear your mind. Sitting around your desk wallowing in self-pity from your lack of imagination will only worsen your writer’s block.

Change your environment

Many writers tend to lose motivation over time from a stale environment. A writing area that remains unchanged for years can easily turn into a place of dread if you begin to associate that area with negativity, regardless of aesthetics. Rearrange the layout of your desk or of the room entirely. Add a few plants, paintings, or candles to inspire yourself, and create a whole new atmosphere that feels different. If you’d prefer to leave your current area of creativity as is, even writing outside or in a different room can be the environmental change your mind needs.

Freewrite

Writing when you’re experiencing writer’s block may seem counter intuitive. One simple solution is to write about just that. Describe your feelings about your current situation, and expand on the frustration of not being able to write in general. An alternative to this method would be to look around the room and write about what you see. Though it may feel forced, getting your pen moving can actually promote mental activity, leading to a wider range of thought.

Indulge in another form of creativity

Your temporary absence of thought when writing could be limited to just that. Direct your creativity towards another hobby like painting, playing an instrument, building a house of cards, or cooking, for example. The key is to keep the creative part of your brain active regardless of the task. Focusing on other art forms could put an end to that mental pause, and get you back into the flow of writing.

Eliminate distractions

Common causes of writer’s block are consistently checking one’s phone, surfing the internet, or constant interaction with others. Anything that can direct your attention away from writing should be considered a distraction, and should be set aside for the time being. Turn off your phone, unplug your internet connection, and lock the door. While you may feel like a bit of a recluse, disconnecting yourself from the outside world can help your brain tap into its most creative portion.

Writer’s block can truly discourage those who believe the pen is mightier than the sword from thinking so. Do not let this pessimism consume you. Try some of the strategies listed above if you’re experiencing a creative deficit to keep your pen or pencil moving.