My dear friend Cindy Young-Turner wrote a blog post about her experience with Doubt Monkeys, and I wanted to weigh in on her blog post… but I forgot my log in. The Web Content Fairy pinged me on the forehead about five minutes ago and rebuked me for not making my comments into a long-overdue post on this site.
I fought back.
The Fairy won.
So, writers face many forms of self-doubt as we struggle to put words where we want them. I won’t even touch on the fears that dog us about issues we can’t control. It would take a book to approach addressing them. I’ll stick with self-doubt like Cindy talks about.
Pardon me while I whip out my Therapy hat. VOILA!
If you have written a book, or stories, chances are you can do it again. Why? You did it once before. There’s a better than 50/50 chance that the urge will strike again… especially if writing is the craft that haunts you like a spectral mother-in-law. That cranky muse will strike again, and every time she does, you’ll get closer to working with words.
Fear of not being good enough falls under the same rational barrage: you are good, and that hasn’t changed. Look at it this way, have you had a major blow to the head that has impaired you in some way? Drugs? Alcohol? No? Then your good brain and talents have not been disturbed.
Here’s the irony, fear and doubt interrupt the flow of creativity that you are seeking. Fear and doubt are also normal; unless you’re devastated by them on a regular basis. That’s when it is time to find a psychiatric professional. Be that as it may, emotions are normal.
The only way out of a storm of negative self-talk is to plow through it. Engage that gorgeous rational mind, and let it kick the shit out of your fears.
Not good enough? The only way to get better is to practice, that involves continuing to work, and actively pursuing improvement. Also, and well worth noting, you’re already pretty impressive, having written a book in the first place. People who write books are in the minority of the minority of a creative niche in our population.
Having trouble writing the project you need to write? Write about something else. Take a day and start a new story. Try writing from the perspective of a character that isn’t your star. Upset your apple cart and keep moving. Go back to the big project when your heart and mind are clear.
Writer’s block have you stuffed up? Try the same things I mentioned in the last paragraph. Can’t think of something to write about, I’ll give you a theme for free:
A guttering street light flashes Morse Code on the trail of blood leading into the blind alley between Sakanaya Sushi and The Porter’s Draft. There’s a wet copper tang in the air, lurking underneath the animal musk of someone’s good time gone bad. You can hear deep, ragged breathing…
In short, if your feelings are running you up and down a flag pole, interrupt them. It might be as simple as writing a blog post about it, or calling a friend and admitting that you’re messing with your feelings. Once your creative flow has been diverted from coiling your emotions into snarled skeins, it can be directed where you need it most.
Hope all is well with everyone!