Posted in journal prompts, memoir, writers, Writing for healing

Dialogue with the Devil: the Terror of Writing

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Writing is just plain rough going at times. I know it. You know it. The people who hosted the memoir webinar I just listened to,  know it.

I am still in the rough stages, first draft of my book. It has become a love-hate affair.  Sometimes my inner dialogue is like a crowded theatre.

Here’s the crazy conversation inside my head:

Me: Stop paying attention to what anyone else is doing. Get back to work. Stay focused.

Supportive Self: Writing the memoir is difficult. You can do it.

The Book: Ha! Thought you could ditch me. You can’t dump me because I will haunt you. You know you need me. You can’t live without me. You have to DO me.

Me: I have to do this. My book is my bucket list.

Webinar Host Self: Stay with it. Get it down, it’s rough, and it’s raggedy. “You have to find a new angle on an old theme.”

ADD Self: Oh, I just wrote angel instead of angle. I could write about angels.  How about guides? An angel and a guide. That has a nice ring to it.

Critic Self: Don’t be ridiculous! Have you checked out how many books there are now on angels? Get. A. Life. Quit right now! You suck!

Devil Self: You made a deal with me. You are going to hide the truth. Trust me.

Snob Self: So what?

Adult Self: You have to give your pages to someone else to read. You can’t include every sordid detail of what your ex-husband did and said.

Grandparent Self: You have to write Chapter 5 again dear. Re-write that nice part where Grampa took all you kids to the lake and the big storm came in. That’s great dramatic tension. There, there, have a nice cup of tea.

Therapist Self: Now let’s talk about how you just spent two hours surfing the internet and scheduling unaffordable dream vacations at the beach. Let’s talk about your goals.

Antisocial Self: I like hiding under a rock.

Slacker Self: I’ll learn something by watching re-runs of Dr. Phil.

Calm guru self: Now, breathe in and out. Very nice. Do the submissive pose. Now slowly rip up your first manuscript.

Me: Oh no. I just spent another hour looking up Buddhism and I only wrote two paragraphs.

BFF Self: Oh I like it. So did you want to go bowling or to the movies tonight?

Mother Self: Now honey, you really should take a walk to burn off your restless energy. I’ll make some Thai noodles and stir fry just for you.

Me: Sob. I’m an orphan. Oh my God, what if the noodles  are gluten & GMO? Oh but it tastes so good.

Husband Self: That’s nice sweetie. It’s a little wordy. Did you see where I put my socks?

Afro Caribbean Goddess Self: You know you will always have what it takes. So what’s a few extra curves and well-roundedness?


Rock Star Self: Be loud, be bold. Dye your hair green.

Drill Sergeant Self: Zip it. Cut the crap. Get to work! This conversation is OVER!


Journal prompt: Write a dialogue with the various parts of yourself. Do as many aspects of your personality as you want. Then write a reply. How do you deal with all the challenges that you face during the gritty parts of a project?

2) Take one aspect of your inner personalities such as The Drill Sergeant character and do a dialogue with him or her. What do you want to say to that part of yourself? What is that character saying to you?

3) Try writing out suggestions from one of your personalities/characters and make them positive and totally supportive. Does this help? If not, why?

Copyright © 2014 art and text by Susan E. Rowland.


I made it this far and plan to keep going. I believe nature heals the soul. I love to journal, to write, do art, and music. I'm not afraid to tackle tough subjects. Solar-powered & drive hybrid. Trying to do my part. Earned my BA at 53. And, I believe, it's never too late to have a happy childhood.

8 thoughts on “Dialogue with the Devil: the Terror of Writing

  1. Wow, Sue! Is this ever wise, touching, funny, and oh, so true. No need for me to write the prompt. You just did it for me. I(Not to mention that I tell my memoir writing students to 1) not be so hard on themselves 2) suck it up and write 3) take a break with a cup of tea or coffee.) And they don’t believe that I and all other writers of memoir go through the same anguish that they do.

    I’ll show them your post. That’ll convince them.

    Thank you thank you thank you.

    1. (((hugs))) Thank you! “Nobody told me there’d be days like these” It was worse than what I had originally planned to post. And way too long. Here’s a cuppa for your manuscript.

  2. Sue, I thoroughly enjoyed this post and I can completely relate–my inner dialogue was not as extensive when I wrote my memoir, but it showed up religiously each time. What dispelled it was talking back to it–I’ll show attitude–I would push through and just write and within a short while I would be in the flow. Sometimes I would play music that was related to the era I was writing–other times I would just dance to shake off the negativity and shift the energy. Keep writing!!!

  3. Hi Andrea! The inner monologue is a spoof…well…not entirely, but you get the gist. 🙂 I like your “I’ll show attitude.” You bring wonderful clarity and purpose to the experience. And your tip about background music is helpful.

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