Let's talk about Self-Doubt.You know the monster. All writers (artists really) have battled it when it rears its fowl head. It's so unpredictable and devastating. One minute you're cruising along, fingers flying across the keyboard, and the next you're curled into a ball, slurping ice cream with a straw, and wondering if your words are worth anything. It's normal (or is it just me?).
What isn't normal is letting that self-doubt seep like a poisonous tea into other waters of your life. I've struggled to maintain control like so many others. Yet I've had this crippling issue move its way into my parenting, my spiritual sphere, and my other relationships. How do we damn it up? How do we curb it in the first place?
What it comes down to is tripping up the thoughts that build up self-doubt and then resisting the pull to stay there.
Get Some SupportSurrounding yourself with people either going through the same thing or enthusiastic about you and your writing will lessen self-doubt and keep it at bay. Getting involved in a local writers group, plugging into online support through twitter, facebook groups, or other blogs with feedback and encouragement are all great examples. Even taking writing breaks or chatting with a non-writer friend about your self doubt and being affirmed can help.
Think Happy ThoughtsCoping mechanisms for non-writers can work for writing self doubt as well. Do things you love between drafting or edits will keep you from being hard on yourself. Reread parts of your manuscript that you love, such as snappy dialog or beautiful imagery. Chances are if you love it, your critique partner/agent/publisher/fans will too. Even a few good laughs, time with pets or loved ones, or cute cat pictures on Facebook will do in a pinch.
Don't Rely on "If Only"It's easy to do the "if only" mind process and try to focus on how you'll be better at things if you only had an agent, a book deal, etc... but the truth is even the most successful author deals with whether what they have written is worthy of their fans. Just because a writer has an agent or has published a book doesn't mean they are free from uncertainty.
Things to RememberWhen I'm being rough on myself, these are what I try to remind myself:
- Every writer feels like this once in a while
- I will be successful if I keep at it
- No one can tell my story like I can
- I really want someone to read my work
- I'm writing because I love it
- I can do this!
What are you're stragedy for dealing with self doubt? Please tell us in the comments!