by Lillian Csernica on April 22, 2013
“Sabotage is a deliberate action aimed at weakening another entity through subversion, obstruction, disruption, or destruction. In a workplace setting, sabotage is the conscious withdrawal of efficiency generally directed at causing some change in workplace conditions. One who engages in sabotage is a saboteur. As a rule, saboteurs try to conceal their identities because of the consequences of their actions.”
Psssst! Here’s one of the dirty little secrets of being a writer. There are people who don’t want us to succeed. Among them we can count the least likely suspects, our very own selves. Now why on earth would we get in our own way? Simple. It’s really hard to go on writing book after book after book. A lot of perfectly reasonable obstacles can get in the way, especially if we have work, kids, school, or other serious commitments such as being the caregiver for another family member. On a day to day basis, the little tasks that demand our attention can also gang up on us. When we allow these little tasks to get in the way of our writing, they become avoidance . We want to get today’s writing done, yet we rush off to fold laundry, answer the phone, groom the pet, trim our toenails, etc. This is self-defeating behavior. Career-derailing behavior. Self-sabotage.
Now let’s look at the people in our lives who might have some motivation for spiking our writing ambitions.
- The “Good Intentions” crowd. These people think we’re chasing a hopeless dream, wasting productive time, setting ourselves up for the pain of rejection and disappointment. They think they know what’s better for us than we do. They don’t understand why we write and there’s not much point in trying to explain it to them.
- The Jealous Wannabes. We’ve all met them. They talk a lot about writing, but they don’t do much of it. Or they do write, but they refuse to listen to any input that suggests weaknesses in their writing style, plot structure, etc. They claim they know What It Means To Be A Writer no matter how unrealistic or self-defeating that idea might be.
- The Know-It-Alls. They hide behind a mask of information, but what they’re really doing is playing oneupsmanship games. No matter how much writing we do, the Know-It-Alls will quote some authority on how we should be doing either more or less at this or that pace. No matter how much success we achieve, the Know-It-Alls talk about the career patterns of Big Name writers. Notice the consistent behavior here. All Know-It-Alls do is talk, and that talk is designed to undermine our confidence, motivation, and momentum.
- The Dream Killers. These are hostile jerks who get their jollies from trashing somebody else’s hopes and dreams. They can put on the masks of the above three types, or they can be quite direct with their insults and mockery. Either way, they’re toxic and we need to avoid them.
How do we protect ourselves against such sabotage, especially when it comes from family or co-workers? Just smile. Smile, say thank you for their interest, and go on writing. Know these people for what they are. Their efforts at sabotage are all about their problems and have nothing to do with us or our writing.
It’s hard, I know, but there’s nothing sweeter than announcing to these people the sale of a short story or a novel. Living well really is the best revenge.