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A Writer’s Worst Enemy

March 18, 2013

I hope you’re all sitting down so you won’t have so far to fall! Believe it or not, I’m actually going to post something other than, “I’m blogging at…” here today. Yes, I know it’s been a while. But since it is March, I thought it was about time to begin working on that list of New Year’s resolutions I wrote back in January.

According to an old legend, Lucifer at one time thought about going out of business. He sent word far and wide, calling all his demons together for what was surely an event to exceed anything Christie’s ever dreamed of staging. That’s right. The devil was going to auction off his tools.

Of course all the younger devils, eager to become masters in the diabolical art of temptation, began to bid for the devil’s collection. Anger, pride, lust, un-truth, sloth, all these among others were sold for a fairly low amount. On and on the bidding went until there was only one tool remaining. The room became boisterous as the bidding on this last item soared causing the demons to go wild in their desire to acquire the most valuable of all Satan’s assets.

Each fiend tried his best to get it because he knew that here was a tool which in the hands of a skillful tempter would make the capture of a soul extremely easy. Lucifer decided that because they were all so anxious he had better not sell this tool. He cancelled his retirement and stayed in business. The name of that tool by which the devil gets more souls than any other is discouragement. A big word? Maybe, but it means simply this: When you are discouraged you quit trying, and if you quit trying you are licked.

What makes this the devil’s most valued tool and why should we fear it? It doesn’t matter if you believe in the devil or not. He believes in you and, frankly, he is our enemy. He holds with the old adage, “Know thy enemy.” He probably knows more about us than we know about ourselves and we certainly don’t know enough about him. So when he comes after us, his strategy is well planned. And while I constantly tell new writers to eradicate their fears, this is one we should never lose or forget. We should have a healthy fear of the devil as our enemy. He knows how to hit us where it hurts most. Want an example of discouragement? I could wall paper my entire apartment with the rejection letters I’ve received. Reviewers and many readers seem to love my books. Then again, there’s always one out there who will write the most scathing review until I think I should dig a hole and bury all my paper, pens and computer.

On the other hand, just because we should fear him doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be confident, because there is a way to deal with him and his discouraging tactics. When it comes to dealing with the devil, there is a very simple rule: Run—don’t walk—to the nearest exit. Running doesn’t make you a coward. You are a coward if you stay. Because if you dally with him, he will overcome you and then you will get more discouraged, then you will quit trying and then you are licked.

So get your affirmations together. Surround yourself with other writers. Socialize with your readers. Above all, don’t let the devil wear you down with discouragement. It’s hard to crawl out from under his tent of hindrance. This is a case of feel the fear and write anyway.

Every couple of years or so, I used to go through a series of writing exercises to help me stay on track and out of Lucifer’s Lair of discouragement and fear. I’m in the process of doing them again. Surprisingly, my daily word count has tripled in the last two weeks and I’m only on step four of fourteen. The process may seem trite to some, but it works for me. If any of you are interested in the process, I’ve posted steps one through five at The Stoa. The classroom link is If you have trouble with that link for some reason, try , go down to Writing Classes. Free Your Inner Writer is the only one there so far and I picked it because it’s a good one for us all from pre-published to multi-published. I’ll post a few steps every week until all fourteen are there.

On a news note: On March 23, I’ll be joining several authors from other genres at the M.R. Davis Public Library in Southaven, Mississippi for their fabulous Mix and Mingle with the Authors event. The affair lasts from 11 am to 2 pm. There will be books for sale, for signing, giveaways, and a great chance to meet some wonderful authors from a variety of genres. If any of you are near the Mid-South Tri-State Area and can make it, please stop by. I’d love to meet you. And I’m dragging my friend Barry along so you can meet my wonderful web designer too. When the event is over, I’m going for food, so I’ll let anyone interested know what local restaurant we’ll be at.

Until next time, happy reading and writing!

12 Comments leave one →
  1. Jaye Garland permalink
    March 18, 2013 6:24 am

    Great post and it’s written with the perfect angle to make a solid point. Everything made perfect sense to me. Thank you! My worst writing ememy is not having a plot before I sit down to write the story. Yup. I’m a true plotter, but I tried to do nano last June for the first time and wasn’t prepared. Now, I’m patchworking my way through all the plot holes. I must say, ending up with a great story that’s cohesive as well as intriguing is a lot harder when the homework hasn’t been done. I’m guilty of letting the Devil tempt me away from my strengths. Thanks for an enlightening post. Hugs!

    • March 18, 2013 6:58 am

      So glad you stopped by, Jaye. The writing process differs from writer to writer. I’m not a pancer or plotter. I’m a characterer. But I go through the same thing. If I don’t really know my characters before I start, I don’t get anywhere. I can get discouraged and frustrated until I remind myself that I just need to get to know my characters so they can tell me their story. After I do that, then the whole story runs like a movie in my mind.
      And of course, physical problems also lead to discouragement. But that topic would take more than a blog post.

  2. Sue Watson permalink
    March 18, 2013 7:33 am

    My worst enemy is my attitude that I have to have everything else done on my list before I start to write. I want my office organized and all the paperwork filed. That never happens as there is always more paper and more tasks to do first. Writing is number 10 on my list, and I never make it to number 9, which is exercise, or number 10. So I’d say slavery to my to do list keeps me from writing.

    • March 18, 2013 8:28 am

      Sue! I’m a classic procrastinator too! If you saw the layout of my To Do list you’d probably crack up with laughter. A number of years ago, Julie Garwood told me to write for at lesst 15 minutes when i first got up in the morning. Then at least that much would get done. Unfortunately, I’m a night person. LOL. I’ll have to do my next blog on Working Goals &Objectives. Mine from NY need to be rewritten or I’ll be behind all year. But for now, try re-prioritizing your list to put writing in the top three.
      So glad you dropped in. I’m-so-far-behind-I’ll-never-catch-up is a leading cause of discouragement.

  3. March 18, 2013 7:49 am

    Good article, Mary. You are so right, Satan knows our buttons, and discouragment is one of mine. Right now I’m waiting on my editor to send back edits, and it is taking her a long time. It makes me wonder why I keep my own deadlines. Thanks. It helps to know others face enemy issues.

    • March 18, 2013 8:37 am

      You are so right, Gay. There have been times i wondered if my editor worked on deadlines. There are times she probably eondered the same thing sbout me. On the other hand, the waiting time can be the perfect time to start a new book. It takes your mind off the wait and gives you a whole new set of characters with problems to deal with. Thanks for sharing your experience with us.

  4. March 18, 2013 11:56 am

    Lovely post. My worst writing enemy is marketing. It eats up so much time.

    • March 18, 2013 5:30 pm

      I can totally feel for you, Ella. These darn compression fractures only let me sit for so long each day and I feel like I have to spend that time on my wip or I’ll never get it finished. I don’t know what happened to the old Turning Points site but I learned more from Jacquie Rogers and her cohorts than anyone else. In the meantime, I’ll rummage through my notes and see if I can find some of the shortcuts she passed along to me. After all, marketing and promotions can be a few of the most discouraging things in the world when what you want to do is write.
      So glad you could stop by!

  5. March 18, 2013 9:38 pm

    My worst enemy is lack of time. With multiple kids still in college I work multiple jobs. Often I leave when it’s still dark out and don’t get home until it’s dark again…and not just in the short days of winter! Oh, how I envy retired writers who can spend the day listening to their muses! Someday…

  6. March 19, 2013 5:15 pm

    Love this post–and I’m mired in a heavy dose of discouragement at this very moment. I suppose the self-doubt is always with us, so I need to sit down at my computer and plunge ahead!

  7. March 25, 2013 4:58 am

    Hey Mary! Just popping by to say hello. Love the site!

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