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Are You Schrödinger’s Writer? Here’s How To Break Out Of This Destructive Mindset

Schrödinger’s Cat Versus Writers

Schrödinger’s Cat is a thought experiment devised by the Austrian physicist Erwin Schrödinger, which he designed to illustrate a paradox of quantum superposition. In this famous paradox, a hypothetical cat may be considered both alive and dead simultaneously because its fate is linked to a random event that may (or may not) occur.

Over time, Schrodinger’s cat has been linked to any number of hypothetical situations – erroneously or not – in which something may or may not happen, concurrently or not.

I found myself talking about ‘Schrodinger’s writer’ recently with a number of Bang2writers. During these 1:1 sessions, many writers confessed they were particularly frightened of submissions.

The reasons for this – regardless of whether the writer was an author or a screenwriter – boiled down the following:

  • They were scared of people reading their writing and NOT reading their writing
  • Or they were frightened of people hating their work … or even liking their work
  • They were scared of submissions in case their work was so good it got stolen but also scared of making no impact at all
  • Or they were scared of being trolled online during their launches, but also of their launches being ignored altogether
  • They were scared of failure, but equally as scared of success

As you can see, the above are tough situations for writers to be in … no matter WHAT happens.

‘What is the worst you think might happen?’

I ask this question so writers can vocalise their fears. In doing so, they frequently realise they either have nothing to worry about, because there is no ‘final answer’. To be a professional writer is to stand up and present your work to others. That’s uncomfortable, especially for the first time.

What’s more, we all have to make our peace with being ignored or hated on. It’s the price of being visible. Most writers understand that EVERYONE worries about such things. Strength in numbers can be really helpful here.

One of the biggest scary sticking points for writers is legal stuff like non-disclosure agreements or release forms. Whilst most writers will not have to worry about NDAs, release forms frequently scare the bejesus out of writers.

Many new writers believe release forms to be a ‘permission to steal’ documents. NOPE! Release forms are simply ‘permission to read’ documents. Nothing more, nothing less.

So why have them at all? Well, they’re necessary because ideas are so cheap they get replicated endlessly, often by people who are not even connected. Really!

Don’t believe me? Then go dive into your nearest spec pile

You will find ideas and EVEN EXECUTIONS so similar it will make you weep! Yet none of these writers will be aware of one another.

Some writers tell me they’re frightened of even sending their scripts or novels out because they believe it’s SO likely their ideas will get stolen. Yet I’ve never seen a credible case of this happening in the screenplay spec pile in twenty years.

Have I seen copyright infringement cases? Of course.

Have I seen legal problems? Absolutely.

But this has happened to writers already within the system, not from the spec pile itself.

We have to get real, especially when it comes to spec screenplays. The likelihood of them ever being made – even when they’re GOOD – is tiny. Most of us agree this is the case … yet some of us still worry our ideas will get ‘stolen’ somehow.

It’s slightly different with novels. It’s much more likely a writer can get a publishing deal and see ‘their’ idea on shelves, virtual or real. That said, agents and then publishers are still likely to develop your book with you. The likelihood of somebody plucking your manuscript out of the pile, slapping their own name on it and publishing it ‘as is’ is minuscule.

Basically, when it comes to submissions? We need to understand its good ol’ fashioned fear of the unknown.

Schrodinger’s writer

The more you know about stuff like copyright or how the industry works, the more confident you will feel. So do the work and ease your anxiety! It’s pretty straightforward once you get the hang of it. Start here with Top 10 Legal Questions For Writers.

Similarly, if you find yourself worried about the more philosophical elements of failure or success, ask yourself that question … ‘What’s the worst that can happen?’

Sometimes, simply writing down all the worst things – even if they’re objectively awful – can be very soothing. This is because now you now know what you’re dealing with.

Plus, a lot of the time (in writing, anyway), you’ll discover it’s unlikely to be as bad as you fear!!!

I’ve lost count of the number of writers who have done this Schrödinger’s writer exercise with me … and discovered that naming the fear reveals there’s nothing concrete to worry about after all.

Good Luck!

Join B2W Academy

If you’re looking for accountability, community, learning, Q&As with industry pros and moral support with me and your peers, join B2W Academy.

More than just a single course, think of B2W Academy is for serious writers who want to work on their goals in a supportive environment. Whether you’re a screenwriter or author, or interested in craft or careers, B2W Academy can help.

What’s more, I’m still looking for Founder members right now so you can help shape the Academy the way YOU want it … and in return, you get two-thirds off the final price and lifetime access.

Interested? CLICK HERE for further details, or send me an email or message on social media with the word ACADEMY and we can chat!

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