I have many voices in my head. (Most writers do.) Most of them I created, in one form or another, and for the most part I consider them friends. They populate my manuscripts, existing and prospective. Their voices are known and welcome.
But there is another voice in my head, and yours, and the head of every person I’ve ever known or spoken to. Some of us hear it more loudly than others, but if you stop and think, you’ll recognize it’s there.
I call it the voice I do not listen to, but that’s really a misnomer because sometimes I hear it anyway. It’s the voice that tells me I won’t succeed, I’m a fool for even trying, and I might as well give up and walk away.
You recognize it, don’t you? You have one too and it tells you the same thing.
I have good news and bad news about this voice. The good news is that this voice is always wrong. That doesn’t mean you can do absolutely anything you set your mind to, but if you fail it won’t be for the reasons this voice would have you believe. It’s not because you’re a failure, or a weakling, or a talentless hack. It’s not because you don’t deserve to win or because you’ve always been a fool. That Voice would like you to believe those things are true, because That Voice only wins if it convinces you to surrender or to quit.
The Voice is persistent and it knows where you live. It will find you in that long, dark teatime of your soul and ask to come in for a cup or two. It will whisper from the closet where your skeletons hide. It walks in the daylight, a real, sparkle-free vampire that wants to drain your ambition, your happiness and your dreams.
And sometimes you will have nothing but faith and fortitude left to fight with.
The good news is that faith and fortitude are enough. (Though friends and Oreos help.)
The bad news is that That Voice will never go away, but even that can be used to fight it. The next time you hear it sneaking up on you, don’t run away or try to ignore the fear. Turn back and face it. Tell That Voice you know its tricks, and you’re not listening today. Keep working on whatever project inspired you – the one That Voice would rather you didn’t complete. Persevere, and overcome, and understand that the only power That Voice really has is the power you choose to give it.
Let’s choose to give it none.