Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Vanquishing Self-Doubt

It's that ugly little voice that whispers nasty lies in your ear when you’re most vulnerable. 

     You’re not good enough.

     Everyone else is better than you.

     Your writing is uninspiring and cliché. 

     You’re delusional to think you can do this. 

     You can’t even type.

The negative feelings feed on themselves growing bigger and scarier until they threaten to gobble you up. 
Photo by Dan Holm
When self-doubt engulfs me like a dark cloud, my gut freezes.  My brain hardens like concrete.  Writing the simplest sentence feels like climbing an insurmountable mountain.  One that’s covered with sink holes.  And sticker bushes.  And flesh-eating bacteria.  Self-doubt cramps my view of what’s possible and obscures the road behind, blotting out the memory of how far I’ve already come.  

For writers, it’s a pretty common complaint.  Writing can be lonely.  It’s just you and your keyboard and that blinking cursor you’re supposed to be pushing across a white page. 
To deal with self-doubt, I have to make myself ignore the toxic voices and keep writing.  I have to convince myself my goal is possible, and remember that, no matter how difficult if feels right now, I’ve done it before and can do it again. 
Writing buddies and critique groups help in this regard.  They keep me grounded and provide encouragement when the bridges fall away.  And the ogres won’t let me pass.

Sometimes it only takes a little break in the gloom to get moving again—finding an inspiring quote, coming up with a fresh idea, gaining a small insight into a difficult plot twist, receiving a kind word from a friend.  Then I’m back on road, writing stories that I hope will someday carry my readers on their own magical journey.

“If you hear a voice within you say 'you cannot paint,' then by all means paint and that voice will be silenced.”
                                                              ― Vincent van Gogh

That’s how I cope. And it works.

Most of the time.

How about you? What do you do when the self-doubt beasties start nibbling at your heels?

1 comment:

  1. Sometimes Van Gogh made a lot of sense! Write to silence the naysayers (even in our mind). Sounds good to me.

    I don't believe any art teachers in my classes ever told someone they 'couldn't' paint. They would discuss the style. . .instead.