Pep Talk No. 16 – Welcoming Your Demons

Recently on Writer’s Round-About I talked about inner demons. Those nasty creatures that sit on our shoulder snarling negative propaganda about us and our writing. Well, they certainly sit on my shoulder but I’m sure there is a little demon with varied degree of power for each of us. Who is your little demon? Do you have just one or many?

Welcome Your Demons: Inner and OuterGeorge Singleton has a fantastic little pep-talk, number 16, in his book, Pep Talks, Warnings & Screeds:

If it is true that the audience members applaud as a maestro takes the stage, or when an actor emerges from the wings, because they wish to rid the venue from spirits and demons, then please make sure that you never enter your writing space while clapping. In fiction writing, it may be best to have as many specters and demons perched in the rafters as possible.

What do you think George meant?



How Can Our Demons Help Us?

Demons, inner or otherwise, gain power through fear and intimidation. Their ability to scare creates emotional and sometimes physical reactions. Sometimes, fear hinders us, freezing us in place, but fear is also a natural and positive response.

Fear can cause an adrenaline release. Adrenaline lets us move faster, think faster, act faster. It speeds our responses, heightens our senses, and energizes our endorphins. By embracing the fear these demons create we can bring emotion onto the page and we are more likely to feel the emotion coming off the page as we write. It helps us develop the right tone and depth and gives us a positive boost in motivation and momentum.

Our demons also force us to be cautious. To examine options, evaluate choices. While this may be more hindrance than help in the first stages of writing, welcoming our demons in the editing stage is a must. It is their voice that helps us meticulously comb our manuscript for errors and inconsistencies.

Other Demons To Consider

Our inner demons are not the only ones who play a role in our writing. These demons are a creation of the mind. They are our brains way of compartmentalizing our fears and insecurities. Our ability to create inner demons is a sign of fertile imagination and creativity. These demons are not the only ones who accompany us during the writing process.

Your protagonists must have demons of their own. They can be real or imagined, inner demons, or physical demons. Readers tend to associate best with well-rounded, balanced, characters. Characters need to have flaws and weaknesses. They need to have room to grow. It is normal for characters to face fears of their own.

More literally they also have the demonic aspects of their mirror, the antagonist. The antagonist has demons also, and can be the dark element of the story, a demon in his own right.

Can you see the demons and specters that haunt the rafters of your writing place? What influence do they have on your work? How do they help you? Answer these questions in the comments!

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Rebecca Laffar-Smith

Rebecca Laffar-Smith is a publisher, children's writer, and novelist. In 2010 she gave up a successful 12-year freelance career to focus on her three loves; family, community, and fiction. She self-published her debut novel The Flight of Torque in June 2014 and the first three titles in the P.I. Penguin series in from Aulexic in May 2015. At The Craft of Writing Fiction, Rebecca shares her journey of creation and learning with readers. She loves getting to know her fellow readers and writers and can be contacted through Twitter and Facebook, or Email.

5 thoughts on “Pep Talk No. 16 – Welcoming Your Demons”

  1. My own demons in writing once convinced me that I couldn’t write more than 600-700 words, my writing wasn’t “good enough” to compete and eventually sent me into a place where I didn’t write. Overcoming those fears has added a greater confidence in many other areas of my life. That little demon even has a place in a story… but that one is for another day.

  2. Perhaps those demons with whom writers are so well acquainted are actually coming from our characters; they are trying to rid themselves of demons by projecting them onto us.

    That perspective certainly makes the insecurities of the characters very real to me. Poor dears! Better get them into therapy immediately!

  3. It’s fantastic to know others have been able to get past and overcome some of their demons.

    What did you do to help you overcome the misinformation about writing more than 600-700 words, Mysti?

    In many cases it is about changing the internal messages from a negative to a positive. As with most things the theory is much easier than the practice. *grins*

    Mary, I think fiction characters SHOULD need therapy. *grins* It’s a part of what makes them rich and interesting. Characters need to have their quirks and insecurities; those humanizing elements that help readers empathize with the characters.

    It would be interesting to do a trial. For example, if I were working on my current novel and facing down the fear, I could find a way to attribute that fear to my character. I think doing so, whether the fear is hers originally or not, would help shift the energy into the story instead of having it hanging over my head. Interesting… Worth trying.

    What do you think?
    .-= Rebecca Laffar-Smith shares: Pep Talk No. 16 – Welcoming Your Demons =-.

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