Magick,  S. Connolly,  the writing life

Day 13 – Writing & Critics #domagick

Your biggest critic will always be yourself.

It doesn’t matter what you do or how well you do it, you will always have external critics. What’s worse, of course, is when you become the critic because the internal critic is a far bigger self-saboteur.  We can ignore our external critics. We can label their behavior as fueled by jealousy or anger at themeselves that they have yet to create anything, so they try to reconcile this by criticising (in a trollish way) other people’s creations. Very rarely do you see venemous, trolling behavior type criticism come from someone who does a great deal of creating. Unless that creative person is berating themselves.

That underlying behavior of artists (of all types) to have these self-deprecating thoughts likely has a different psychological root for everyone. Now mind you I’m not saying external critics (or naysayers) aren’t responsible for some of this behavior. People who were often told growing up that they were worthless or not good enough, or who endured a lot of ambivilance toward their artistic talent may be more prone to self-sabotage due to self-criticism than someone who didn’t. But for those of us who grew up having our talents nurtured and being told we could do anything we believed if we worked hard enough – what’s our excuse? I grew up in a house where my parents, while honest with me that a career in writing likely wouldn’t put food on the table or a roof over my head (and for a lot of years it didn’t), always encouraged me to develop my skills and work hard toward my goals. I wasn’t always so self-sabotaging. No, my self-destructive internal critic took twenty-five years in the professional arena to develop.

The world is full of rejection, and since our brains are wired to remember and hang onto the bad things as a survival mechanism, we tend to remember (and hang onto) the rejection and criticisms that hurt us rather than the praise and positive words of encouragement. And because nothing in life is guaranteed to be fair, or nice, or positive – long exposure to rejection and even nasty trolling criticism opens us up to fear. The fear of not being good enough. The fear of failure. For me, I’ve spent the last week trying to pinpoint the exact moment or time where my internal critic became a problem. I think it was right after I had the bestseller, and the second book (a BETTER book, imo, at that) pretty much bombed. When you reach a certain point of success and then realize it may not be permenant, it’s really easy to start feeling down on yourself. Instead of accepting that that’s sometimes how the industry works, and what readers like can change with trends or the wind, you start wondering where you went wrong.

Did I wait too long to publish the second book? Was the book after the bestseller worse? What did I do to turn off my readers?  Why could I not keep the momentum going? Was I just a one hit wonder?  Then there’s the fear. Can I ever recover? What if I blew my only chance?  Finally — maybe I just got lucky and I really do suck.  All of this is FEAR talking. Fear of failure. Fear of success that can’t be maintained. The list goes on.

Then I realized something astounding. I wrote those successful novellas and the novel with NO FEAR. I didn’t care what other people thought. But the second the novellas and book became popular I began obsessing over what my readers wanted and started to play it safe. I became fearful of LOSING that success. I even played it safe with the last novel. Oh – don’t want to write anything too far out there because the BDSM crowd might get upset if I write that. Some people in that crowd can be downright rabid about their fiction being 100% true to their personal D/s relationship dynamic. I feared the fallout of their critcism and the idea that their opinions might influence other readers.

But then I realized that really – I didn’t write that book for THAT crowd. I wrote it for people who wanted a fun fantasy. Something they could escape into for a few hours and enjoy. Nothing more than that. I write meat and potatoes. It may not be literary or make readers think. It may be brain candy. But it’s fun for me to write, and enjoyable for readers who want a light read.  The people I was afraid of pissing off likely weren’t my audience anyway. Just like my Daemonolatry books aren’t for those with deeply held Judeo-Christian religious beliefs.  Can you really take to heart the criticism of people a book wasn’t intended for anyway? Can you compromise your fearlessness for the sake of acceptance by people you were never creating for? Because really – the people you create for are the people who will appreciate what you’re creating, and you create for YOU and to give voice to your innermost thoughts, ideas, and fantasties. The second you fear being you is the second you start failing.

I also believe that readers can detect honesty and fearlessness in writing, and that may be part of the secret to drawing more of them in.  I guess I’ll be testing that theory.

So the next part of my work, it seems, will revolve around what I’m going to call INTREPID WRITING. I am going to spend the next year writing without fear.  Now I just need to reconcile that with the model of WRITING TO MARKET (i.e. writing popular fiction).  Of course the real idea behind writing to market is to write a story – throw it out there – and see what happens. If readers bite, you write more. If not, you go back to the drawing board and try again. But I still think this can be done while remaining fearless.

It’s a tall order.

Now on to today’s magickal work that sparked the above behemoth post. Or should I say – the above post brought to you by Ashtaroth. LOL  I am pretty positive I picked the right Daemonic forces for this work at this point. So I woke up late, didn’t do any yoga. I did remember my vitamin. Go me! Went to work and worked for a little over 4 hours.  I had to pickup my mom at the airport this afternoon and enjoyed a late lunch/early dinner with her. Then I came home and took a nap. Yes – you heard me – a nap. But not before invoking Ashtaroth using the Daemonic enn, drawing her sigil into me (it was a simple visualization), and then getting comfy on the couch with my favorite blanket. I woke up two hours later with the above enblazened in my brain.  I did my chakra work and my balancing, and I’m feeling pretty damn good. I think the chakra work was desperately needed. I’ve been feeling blocked and not quite balanced since my surgery and simple meditaiton and elemental balancing alone wasn’t cutting it. I probably should have been doing the chakra activation and balancing since last June. Stupid me. I’m making a mental note right now, next time I have surgery, I need to do that IMMEDIATELY.

No fiction writing today. I did manage about 500 words on an article for my writer’s association newsletter.  (Remember that my count doesn’t include blog posts, even if they are weighing in at 1300 words.) I am not proud of the fact that I’ve been avoiding writing fiction the past seven days or so. That changes tomorrow. Now that the taxes are out of my hair, aside from needing to drop them off to my tax lady, I can focus again.

  • Word Count: 500
  • Chakra + Balancing: 25 minutes
  • Sun Salutations: 0
  • Vitamins: Yes
  • Tarot Card: Yes, See below.
  • Invocation – Done and Productive.

Today’s Tarot Card : The Moon

As a Cancerian, ruled by the moon, this is one of my favorite cards. It is the card of intuition and unfolding consciousness. The root of my self-sabotage is being revealed (and it only took thirteen days to start seeing it!).

Steph is an award winning and bestselling author of thrilling steamy and paranormal romances, dark urban fantasy, occult horror-thrillers, cozy mysteries, contemporary romance, sword and sorcery fantasy, and books about the esoteric and Daemonolatry. A Daemonolatress and forever a resident of Smelt Isle, she is happily married and cat-mom to three pampered house cats. Her muse is a demanding sadistic Dom who often keeps her up into the wee hours of the morning. You can contact her at


  • Spearcarrier

    New to your blog – and I like what I have read so far.

    I was left wondering: do you write your blog without fear? As a fellow author – albeit anything but one as prolific as yourself – I often find myself blogging with greater restraints than when writing without feeling like anyone is breathing over my shoulder just yet. I often struggle for things to say.

    So I am just curious if you find a difference in your writing between then and now. Either way I thank you for sharing. I am learning much just by observing your words here.

    • Steph

      I find that I do the same with blog posts. I usually hold back. But if I write with honestly and tell I see it, those posts get more response. This post, for example, is fearless.

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