Wednesday, September 21, 2011

CHRISTIE CRAIG: How To Ward Off A Gremlin

It's something all writers face—published or unpublished—self-doubt.

Romance author, Christie Craig tells how she deals with it and offers Five tips for overcoming and preventing self doubts. 

There’s a monster hiding under my desk.  He lurks there, waiting for the right moment to attack. He’s an ugly little bastard, too.  I have a lot of names for him, but for the sake of not overusing profanity in this blog, I’ll call him by his real name, Self-Doubt.  

Most of you might think that after two decades in the business, I’d have managed to kill the gremlin.  But you’d be wrong.  That sneaky little devil won’t die.  He keeps popping back up. 

I think self doubt is something most writers face throughout their careers.  And by careers, I don’t mean from the point that you become a published author, I mean, from the point you start writing.  I think the inability to fight the gremlin is one of the biggest things that prevent a writer from becoming published.  And it’s probably one of the reasons published writers stop writing.  That’s right, this monster doesn’t care what you’ve accomplished.  All he wants is a big bite out of your confidence.

He’ll tell you that whatever you’ve got on that computer screen is crap.  That you just need to delete it. He’ll convince you that no matter how good of an idea you may have, it’s probably already been done.

He’ll whisper in your ear that you’re wasting your time, that cleaning out your grout in your kitchen tile with a toothbrush is much more important.  Sometimes he possesses your family and friends and they’ll say things like, “How long are you going to put yourself though all this pain before you find something else to do with your time?”  He’ll stare you right in the eyes and tell you that your dreams are silly and you’ll never reach them.  He’ll make you believe that the one negative review out of twenty good ones is the one you should listen to.  If you let him, he not only can slow you down, he’ll rob you of the joy and passion you feel for writing. 

Now, that gremlin is always close by, nipping at your toes, giving you moments of doubt.  I think that’s somewhat normal.  But let that creature scramble up your leg, hang out in your lap, or even worse, let him climb up on your shoulder, where you can listen to him all day long, and you’ll soon be playing Russian Roulette with your passion for writing.  Because writing with a self-doubt gremlin sitting on your shoulder is about as easy as brushing your teeth with a brownie in your mouth. 

So how do we slay the gremlin or at least keep him at bay?  Below are five tips for overcoming and preventing self-doubt from chewing on your sanity.

  • 1)      Be Aware or Peer Pressure.

We preach this to our kids but so often we forget that the bad habits of the people we hang out with are as contagious as a stomach virus.  If you’re hanging out with negative people, people who have lost their ability to chase their dreams, you’re at risk of becoming just like them.  Find positive people who validate your dreams and work ethics to share your life and support your journey.

  • 2)      Ward off the message that you don’t know what you’re doing by continually growing at a writer.  Read how-to books, take classes, attend those writer meetings and listen to what other writers offer as advice.

  • 3)      Mentor someone else.  Nothing can inspire you more than helping and encouraging another person.  Telling others that they have to believe in themselves is a sure fire way or rekindling your own self-confidence.  It also creates karma.

  • 4)      Be leery of ruts.  If you’re not feeling the passion for your writing, try spicing things up by doing something different.  Try writing something in a new genre, or try writing something in a different point of view.  Nothing can get you out of a rut quicker than feeling challenged.

  • 5)      Accept that sometimes you are going to fail. That you’re going to make mistakes.  That you’re going to get rejections—that it might take you years to accomplish what you want to accomplish. Understand that you aren’t the first person to get fifty rejections, or a hundred, or even a thousand. The truth is, the number of rejections you receive doesn't matter.  You are not defeated until you let yourself be defeated.

Writing isn’t for wimps.  Chances are, you’ll face those gremlins, not once but many times, so just be armed with good friends, knowledge, Karma, a sense of adventure, and perseverance.  And never, ever lose your sense of humor.  And now that I’ve shared with you my tips for slaying gremlins, I’d like to hear some of yours. 

  • How do you tackle self doubt?

DON'T MESS WITH TEXASAvailable now on bookshelves and e-book 
Nikki Hunt thought her night couldn't get worse when her no-good, cheating ex ditched her at dinner, sticking her with the bill. Then she found his body stuffed in the trunk of her car and lost her two-hundred-dollar meal all over his three-thousand-dollar suit. Now not only is Nikki nearly broke, she's a murder suspect.

Former cop turned PI, Dallas O'Connor knows what it's like to be unjustly accused. But one look at the sexy-though skittish-suspect tells him she couldn't hurt anyone. The lead detective, Dallas's own brother, has the wrong woman and Dallas hopes a little late-night "undercover" work will help him prove it . . . First Chapter Excerpt (blog excerpt page)

BUY: Amazon : Barnes & Noble : Books a MillionKaty Budget Books


Photojournalist, Author and Speaker

Christie Craig, an Alabama native, is an award-winning, multi-published writer, multi-published photo journalist, motivational speaker, and writing teacher.. Her non-fiction articles and photography have appeared in almost three thousand national magazines. A Golden Heart finalist, and a finalist in more than fifty RWA-sponsored contests, she has gained a well-deserved reputation for writing romance fiction that has both witty humor and a suspenseful, sexy tone. Published by Silhouette in the 90s, she recently broke back into fiction in a big way, making four book sales in one day. Her seventh humorous single title romance novel, published by Dorchester, will hit the stands in June 2010. Her non-fiction book, co-authored by Faye Hughes, released September 08, is The Everything Guide To Writing A Romance Novel and their second non-fiction book, a humorous self-help relationship book, Wild, Wicked and Wanton: 101 Ways to Love Like You Are in a Romance Novel is scheduled to be released December 2010. Craig's latest writing adventure is the sale of a young adult paranormal romance series, Shadow Falls Camp, which will be published by St. Martins Press in the near future.



~Sia McKye~ said...

Christie, these are some wonderful tips. Practical too. I'm a big proponent of helping others when you can. funny, but sometimes you see your own solution when critiquing or helping others.

BTW, I love the last two books you've put out and this one looks engrossing too. Must order it!

aries18 said...

Hi Christie, I love all of your ways of beating the nasty little gremlins we live with on a daily basis. One of my favorite ways of dealing with my gremlins is reading blogs like this, learning what others do. I also have an online writer's group that helps me in those times of great doubt. It's one of the best groups for being supportive of our individual journeys. I've never thought about mentoring someone else but I've been thinking about creating a writing group locally, and that might really provide some much needed gremlin fighting tools.

Thanks Sia, for bringing Christie to us, your loyal following.

Have a great day ladies!

Tonya Kappes said...

Hi, Christie! Those are some great tips. And you are right. Those nasty self doubt gremlins do creep up when my novel is almost complete. He takes over and then I begin to ask all sorts of questions about the plot, characters etc...with all my critique partners. Luckily I have a strong group of writers who can talk me off the self doubt edge! I keep inspirational quotes taped on my computer, on my vision board, in my novel notebooks that surround me and remind me how much I love to write.

Christie Craig said...


It's a pleasure to be here today. Thank you so much for asking me.


Christie Craig said...


Oh yes, reading blogs is a great way to stay motivated. And belonging to a group of people who are going after their dreams is a wonderful way to ward off that little devil of doubt.

Thanks for stopping in.


Christie Craig said...


I love inspiration sayings. I have three pet rocks that live on my desk. One says...Make it Happen. One says, live, and the other says miracles. They are the recipe for success. Make it Happen = Hard work. Live = taking a chances, and miracles = faith.

Thanks for stopping in.


Jo said...

Not being a novelist I don't have this problem but I know several authors nowadays and it certainly does seem to be true of all of you. Your tips seem to be very logical and useful.

Laila Knight said...

Shoot, that wasn't the monster I was thinking off. Self-doubt is a terrible thing, and it affects all of us. Especially when we don't have people around us to offer support for our writing endeavors. Great advice! :)

Christie Craig said...


I think self doubt can attack just about anyone. That ugly monster isn't particular, he'll go after anyone with a goal. LOL. Thanks for stopping in. Have a great day.


~Sia McKye~ said...

Laila, you have another monster dogging you? yikes! I agree, Christie has some good advise.

I have several published friends and some who, like Christie, have been doing this a number of years. When I see they still face doubts--and they're successful and three are best seller--it puts my doubts into perspective.

Christie Craig said...


Yup, having positive people in your corner is so helpful. And Sia, you're so right, just knowing that other people deal with self-doubt, can help you put your own doubts aside.

~Sia McKye~ said...

Wanda, it's my pleasure to have savvy authors like Christie on the blog.

Yes, there is LOTS of mentoring on our writing 'Bats group! Lots of support, sharing of info, positive feedback, and just all around good people--published and aspiring. For sure, I wouldn't be where I am at this point in time without the 'Bats!

Hugs, sweetie!

Mason Canyon said...

Christie, I'm amazed that a successful writer such as yourself still has self-doubt. As a reader I guess I sometimes forget that writers are 'human.' Just saying I'm in awe of what you do. Keep beating the gremlin down.

Sia, another interesting post.

Thoughts in Progress
Freelance Editing By Mason

Christie Craig said...


I keep a baseball bat close to my desk, if that guy gets close I try to whack him one. Thank you so much for stopping by.


Tiffinie Helmer said...

Christie, loved the tips! I do all these things and they do work. Another to add to the list is frappuccinos. It's a little known fact that caffeine repeals self-doubt gremlins. So arm yourselves writers! There is a reason why we all like to hang in coffee shops.

Also, loved, loved Don't Mess With Texas! Had to buy 2 so my BFF could love it too. It kept her up until 3am.

Thanks for beating back your gremlins and producing such wonderful, sexy, and funny books.

J. Coleman said...

Chocolate and great writing groups. Belonging to a group who understands you panic when you DON'T hear voices in your head. They build you up, tell you when you've taken a wrong turn in your manuscript, and what to wear to a pitch session. They talk you "off the ledge." By the way, love your books. Thanks!

Liz Lipperman said...

Oh, boy, did I need to read this right now. The reviews for my first book are going to be coming in, and I'm terrified. You may have to talk me off the ledge when we sign together on October 22 after the DARA meeting.

As for a tip from me--margaritas!!

Sheila Deeth said...

Great tips. If self-doubt's a gremlin, maybe I'll draw a picture of him and stick pins in him. I certainly need to do something to quieten him down.

K. R. Bailey said...

I just came across your blog -- loved what you had to say about self doubt. I've been biting my nails worrying about my first print book but so far, I've had good reviews. Isn't it sad that self-doubt affects us all no matter what we're doing. I remember the saying, "If it is to be, it's up to me." I try to remember that whenever I feel down or doubt myself.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Mentoring does help! I learned so much and was inspired when I began critiquing other's work.

~Sia McKye~ said...

Joelene--funny story about your cheerleading tryouts, lol!

~Sia McKye~ said...

KR, I'm glad you found my blog! So true about self doubt. Sometimes we're our own worst enemy. Congrats on the good reviews!

~Sia McKye~ said...

Alex, I learned an enormous amount by critiquing. It's easier to see the lessons when it's not your own words.

Christie Craig said...

Hi Tiffinie,

So true. Don't get between me and my coffee. LOL. Thanks so much for picking up DMWT. I can't wait until the next one is out. Blame it on Texas is just as funny and heartwarming. The heroine has a cat and poor Bud has to share the coffin. LOL.


Christie Craig said...

Hi J. Coleman,

Those support and critique buddies are the best. We get together quite often and have chocolate martinis. Yum.

And I'm thrilled you enjoy my books. I love writing my zany stories, hoping to make people laugh and see the value in love.

Christie Craig said...


I'll hold your hand and listen to any whines and worries. However, I have a feeling you are going to do wonderful.

Have a great day and see you soon!

Christie Craig said...


We need gremlin voodoo dolls so we can really stick it to him. LOL.

Thanks for stopping in. And good luck with your writing!


Christie Craig said...

K.R. Bailey,

It's the craziest thing... Things can even be going great when that little monster pops up. Good luck with your book. And I love that saying. It goes hand in hand with my...Make it Happen... rock. If we just keep going, we might win at this game.

Thanks for stopping in.


Christie Craig said...


That's so true. When I inspire someone, I'm suddenly inspired. When I teach someone something, I remember it myself. This business is really a "you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours" kind of thing.

Thanks for stopping in.


Tiffinie Helmer said...

Christie, when will Blame it on Texas be out? Can't wait!

Christie Craig said...

Blame it on Texas will be out September 2012. I know it's a long time away. I hate it takes so long to get them out the door and on the shelves.

Sarah Butland said...

My Gremlin lives inside me, with excuses and other obligations, priorities and more excuses.

How do I defeat him? I mostly don't but it's in me to write, I have no choice but to find time once in a while. To find some spare change to enter a contest and hope for the best. Winning them makes my gremlin a little smaller each time.. I know he'll always be there but so is that scar on the back of my hand - it no longer catches my attention.

May your wounds heal and give you more stories to write!

~Sia McKye~ said...

Tiffinie, loved your bio. Alaska. Wow. Not every day a man sweeps you off your mukluks. Cracked me up. I need to hear more about this fishing adventures of yours. :-)

My son and I love muscle cars.

Tiffinie Helmer said...

Wow, thanks, Sia. Hopefully, soon you'll be able to read about it. One of my books is a thriller/romance fishing the Bering Sea. And I can't get enough of muscle cars!

Christie, A whole year away. Yes, I'm whining. And, yet, I understand completely. I'm trying to finish a book that doesn't want to end.

Talli Roland said...

Those are fantastic tips! Self-doubt is such a downer. I hate it! I just try to ignore it and get on with what needs to be done.

Shirley Wells said...

Self-doubt can be crippling. I tend to write through it until it goes away or quietens down a bit. Failing that I eat chocolate. Lots of chocolate.