Fourteen inches of snow had fallen three days earlier. Rain pelted down the fourth day. Yet when I opened the door to head out, it was the most beautiful sight I’d ever seen. After the rain, the temperature dropped, and as the mountains are famous for their beautiful morning foggy mists – the fog had frozen. It was like you could lift your finger and break the air.
I gawked, took pictures and when I came home and sat down to write, I found myself in a frozen fog. It wasn’t writer’s block. My thoughts simply froze as solid as the mountain midst.
It’s crunch time on the novel and as I enter the last 15K words to completion, self-doubt punched at my gut.
It’s probably not good enough. You know folks will compare it to the best seller you had last time. What makes you think you can actually pull off two in a row?
Doubt strikes at the most inopportune times. Without warning we’re plunking away at our work when our fingers grow cold. Our exuberant confidence over the last year, suddenly vanishes.
I know very few writers who can honestly say they’ve never experienced a tad bit of self-doubt. Our work has been accepted by readers. We’ve grow a base of followers who wait anxiously for the next book. The attitude we’ve developed becomes recognized. Why on earth would we let doubt get a foot in the door?
Self-doubt is part of human nature and despite the claims of others, everyone experiences it. Whether it be in your writing or in a personal decision. Everyone questions themselves at one time or another. The key is not allowing it to become a guiding force.
When self-doubt attacks you and your writing take steps to combat the dreadful beast.
Nix excuses – It’s easy as pie to conjure a hundred reasons why you can’t write. The kids, the car is in the shop, you have a ballgame…yea, yea, yea – anything else? Excuses give us permission to rationalize why we can’t work. We become our own worst enemy. So stop it. Fight the self-doubt you hear in your head, then sit down and write.
Avoid the “Jobs Friends” in your life – Stay clear of those well-meaning friends who find reasons why you can’t get into the swing of writing. Think of poor Job as his wife and friends kept pounding him with all the reasons that caused him such grief. Surround yourself with a tribe of individuals who, 1) understand writing 2) love you enough to boot your rear when you start to doubt your abilities 3) will serve as accountability buddies.
Self-assessment – A good self-assessment is good for us. It helps us refocus on the goals we’ve set for ourselves. It allows us to revisit our successes and see that we are capable, able, and smart enough to do the work. Self-assessment acts as a reset button. Just like rebooting the computer clears out the things that causes issues, a fast re-evaluation of yourself, does the same. You’ll see, you’re pretty good at what you do and that you reignite your passion for the work. So occasionally – reboot.
Give yourself a break – And I don’t mean ice cream and a Coke. I mean, ease up on yourself. Give yourself an opportunity to step back and take a breath. Life does pile up and it takes its toll. It’s easy to have compassion for others, but every now and then, have a little compassion on yourself. You are, after all, human. You need rest, food, relaxation – we all need some respite. You’ll find when you allow yourself some leeway, that you get your feet back under you and work becomes a joy again. Love your job of writing. Don’t dread it. If you need to give yourself a rest. Take one. But remember, once you go on vacation, you do have to come home and work. You can’t come back from a time of respite and kick your feet up to do nothing.
Trust who you are as a writer – Don’t wait for validation from others. You may never get it. Trust your skill and the talent God has blessed to you. Step out and write. Your validation comes from the completion of your work. That’s a success. Don’t let self-doubt turn to fear and convince you that failure is imminent. It’s not. Trust yourself. Trust in the God who has gifted you. Believe you will make a difference. Because you will.
Start typing – You can’t write if you allow self-doubt to prevent you from working. Everything you write will not have a home, but if you never write it – you’ll never know. So start American entrepreneur and author, Seth Godin has a great cure for self-doubt. Godin says to “Start shipping!” In other words, do something. Anything. Continue to work at the craft. If you never write the words, complete a project, or make an effort, you have no goods to ship. But when you start to work, that part of you that loves writing, becomes a burning passion. The bigger the burn, the more you produce. Now you can send out those manuscripts and proposals because you have projects to send. Start typing. “Start shipping.”
Doubt is the seed that becomes weeds in our work. Don’t let it take hold and overtake your writing yard.
By lunch, the beauty of the frozen fog was gone. Water dripped from the trees and the white frosty haze was a memory. I allowed myself thirty-minutes to freeze, then I placed my fingers on the keys and wrote. Don’t let self-doubt be the icy voice that freezes up your writing. Defrost and write.
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