The Writer’s Mantra

November will mark two years since I left my magazine writing job to write fiction full time. (I was writing fiction part time before then.) I’ve grown in so many ways since that time, started so many new projects, and really found my voice as a writer.

And there’s one phrase I’ve found myself repeating over and over. It’s a mantra that keeps me sane and helps me fend off Doubt Demons—who always seem to be lurking in the shadows.

“I can fix this.”

If it weren’t for those words, I might have given up long ago. There have been plenty of moments when the Doubt Demons have whispered, “But what if you can’t?” And I’ve simply repeated the words “I. Can. Fix. This.”

As long as I keep putting words on the page, I’ll have something to edit. Nora Roberts said, “I can fix a bad page. I can’t fix a blank page.”

This is the process. We write. We have doubts. We struggle. We write something that, inevitably, needs work. We rewrite. We find more spots that need improvement. We do this until the story sings.

I’ve been using this phrase a lot over the last few days. I’ve been struggling with a story I’m writing, and those Doubt Demons are whispering nasty nothings in my ear. But I can’t fix a story I haven’t written. I can fix a scene that doesn’t work, dialogue that feels flat, or a character whose actions don’t sync with her personality. I can fix a lot of things.

So if it’s not working, I keep writing. Because I can fix it.

And now, my ROW80 check-in…

Writing: Wrote 1,123 words in “A Prince in Patience Point.”

Reading: Continued reading “Eldest” by Christopher Paolini.

A side note: As you can see, the website has a spiffy new look. Many thanks to Robin Ludwig for the header design!

A Round of Words in 80 Days is the writing challenge that knows you have a life. Click here to cheer on fellow participants.

What about you? What words or phrases do you find yourself repeating throughout the creative process?

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16 thoughts on “The Writer’s Mantra

  1. Love the new look to your website. Great post – especially as I continue to have doubts and am not writing as well as I should/want to/need to. I need to adopt that mantra!

    • Thanks, Bev! I hope the mantra works for you–or that you find one that works well for you. Sometimes I forget and allow the Doubt Demons to lead me astray, but this saying helps me find my way back to the story. Good luck!

  2. I commend your ability to talk and work through those moments of doubt. I have them far too often, telling me I’m not as good as ________. It’s hard to ignore, but I know it can be done. I have to tell myself affirmations about me and my writing; that I can do anything and that I don’t have to be as good as some other person.

    • I can’t say I always succeed in fending off the doubt. I do try to write every day, and keeping that goal in mind makes it easier. But some days the Doubt Demons win.

      I think we all have a tendency to compare ourselves, but in the end our work is unique, our voice is our own, and we have to just tell our stories as best we can. I bet you’re doing great!

  3. Oooh, love the new design!

    “I can fix this” is a great mantra. Not sure what mine it. I think it has something to do with being a stubborn old b**ch. *g* But they both come down to keep on keeping on. 🙂

  4. I love this Denise! I Can Fix This. I think you explained this perfectly. Yes, we cannot fix our work if there is no words written. How true. Yet, I hate to write garbage. It’s so hard to allow yourself that space to let go. But it must happen. We need to let go of perfection and just write. Thank you so much for the inspiration girl. As always, I am encouraged. 🙂

    • Like you, I have high expectations of what I write. But I also know that I need to get the story down before I worry about polishing it. That Nora Roberts quote I mentioned has gotten me through many a tough writing situation. And saying “I can fix this” helps immensely. I’m glad you found the post helpful, Karen. Thanks, as always, for your kind comments! 🙂

  5. I think your header looks fantastic, Denise. “Doubt Demons” is very apt – it sounds like you are on the right path to subduing yours. 🙂 I am a big fan of mantras, they really help me when I am feeling down!

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