It was one of those moments when you think you're about to be found out. Do you know the times? When you feel like someone has taken out a double-page advert in The Times that says:
[INSERT YOUR NAME HERE]
is a complete and utter fraud and should be thrown into the
special prison where they put people who pretend to be writers.
Yup, today has been one of those days.
It's quite normal, of course. Every writer or artist has days like them and if they say they don't they are either a) lying or b) lying.
It's all part of The Fear™, that little demon inside that tells you that "YOU CAN'T DO THIS!" and "IF YOU'VE DONE IT BEFORE, YOU'VE NOW FORGOTTEN HOW TO DO IT SO WHY DON'T YOU JUST GO AND BECOME A MUCK-SPREADER INSTEAD?"
(Not that there's anything wrong with muck-spreaders, you understand. The world needs muck spreaders, and I bet they have their own version of The Fear™ too.)
Anyway, I was feeling down in the mouth and worthless so I did what I usually do at when I feel down in the mouth and worthless. I reached for my Official Fear Survival Pack - three steps that give me a kick up the bottom when The Fear™ strikes. Sometimes just one of the three steps will do the trick. On other days I need all three, but they're always there to help.
And inspiration hit. That's what I was going to blog about this month. Those steps I take. So here they are:
1. PLAY 'DON'T STOP ME NOW' BY QUEEN VERY, VERY LOUD!
It probably sounds like a dreadful self-help book thing, but its impossible for me to listen to Freddie and the boys blasting out this particular track and stay glum. It always makes me feel better. Either that or play air guitar which usually amounts to the same thing anyway. No one can play air guitar and feel gloomy. Fact!
2. LISTEN TO NEIL GAIMAN'S MAKE GOOD ART SPEECH!
I love Neil Gaiman's 2012 commencement speech to Philadelphia University of the Arts. I have the book version beside my bed and the video bookmarked on my Mac. It makes me smile, it makes me think and - most of all - it makes me want to work. Here it is, without any further comment on the content, because Neil says everything that needs to be said:
3. REMEMBER THE DEL TORO LAW!
On page 240 of Guillermo Del Toro's wonderful Cabinet of Curiosities he says this:
"There's the famous Sturgeon's Law, which is, 'Ninety percent of everything is s**t.' Now the way I live my life is the del Toro Law, which is, 'Ten percent of everything is awesome.' You know what I'm saying? I agree with Sturgeon, expect I think that it's amazing that we get ten percent."
It may sound glib, but when The Fear™sets in I try to think about that 10 percent. Some days that is easier than others, but there's always something that helps me crawl out of the hole that my black mood and paranoia has thrown me into.
So there you have it. My Survival Pack. Freddie, Neil and Guillermo haven't failed me yet.
Do you have an Official Fear Survival Pack? Perhaps you can share yours in the comments.
He's written for Doctor Who, Skylanders, Judge Dredd, Angry Birds and Warhammer 40,000 among others. He also writes Roger the Dodger and Bananaman for The Beano as well as books for reluctant readers of all ages.
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