Now that we are on the final post for this topic, I must reveal the ugly truth to you: Doubt is inevitable. It’s going to come whether as a temptation to just not write or as a lifestyle that consumes your every thought in the day. Though we have learned about what self-doubt is and how it drags us down, there is actually a way to have it work for you instead of against you.
In Mel Gibson’s star role as Mr. Marshall in the movie, What Women Want, I think most women would consider him to be overconfident in his ability to “read” women. Only later when he gets the ability to hear what women think does he really get the full picture of how women view him, which wasn't too good. There is such a thing as too much confidence. When someone has too much confidence in themselves, it leads to either a rude awakening (we as the average Joes hope) or never reaching full potential because of the false belief in their ability to accomplish the tasks. Just like a college student who has no doubt he or she can finish a 5-page paper 10 minutes before it’s due, too much confidence can come back to bite us in the butt. Giving yourself a false belief that you can accomplish something without a realistic aspect about it is not a wise decision.
Now, how can we turn the tables on self-doubt? We’ve expressed that too much confidence means someone is about to get burned. But too much self-doubt prevents one from taking any risk for his or her future goals and aspirations. So, where is the fine line? When you have done your best. That’s all the world can ask of you is your best. You must have the courage to not just write, but to “write well…a writer has to move past the epic fear we all face, and do it anyway” (Bialosky, 3). A person without any doubt in their minds will not do their best on anything they have to do. They will “not engage in the struggle to get it exactly right on the page, but rather, will assume that (he or) she’s already getting it right without the struggle" (Bialosky, 3). Having some doubt is good! But don’t let it go overboard or completely off the radar. Without the struggle to get it right, there wouldn’t be a story worth pursuing. Everything that is worth it in this life doesn’t come without a fight. So take up your sword of motivation and fight against self-doubt before it is too late!
Bialosky, Jill. "Dani Shapiro: Self-doubt Is a Writer’s Best Friend." Salon. N.p., 13 Nov. 2013. Web. 29 Jan. 2017.
Now that we know exactly what enemy we are dealing with, we are on the right path to destroying it! One main problem in self-doubt is caused from overthinking in your work. Just like in a work of art, you have to let your mind flow with the art in your head. It doesn’t matter about getting it all right the first time, whether that be from a personality, a plot twist or a publishing house. There is a good saying in the movie, The Haunted Mansion: “You try, you fail. You try, you fail. But the only real failure is when you stop trying.” It’s alright not to get it the first time. Just keep trying!
Here are some tips to keep you motivated:
Have a Clear Head.
This is the first step to relieving self-doubt. Have your mind completely clear of all other things not pertaining to your writing. When you have a clean slate, it’s easier to write. Motivation comes when you’ve got as few distracting thoughts as possible. Take deep breaths, or walk around the block, or just the house if need be or write your thoughts down in a journal. Do whatever it takes to rid your mind of all the hustle and bustle of life’s problems, so you can properly focus on the task at hand.
I cannot enunciate enough how important it is to have a positive attitude. There are moments when it feels like the hardest thing on the planet to do. But, having positive or inspiring quotes stamped to a bulletin you read or pictures of family or friends may help you continue up the mountain of self-doubt. Specifically for self-doubt, perhaps you need to tack up quotes that are specific to what you find yourself struggling with. For example, I struggle most with finding the time to write, so placing tips up that deal with time management or a quote like Ann Morrow Lindbergh’s: “I must write it all out, at any cost. Writing is thinking. It is more than living, for it is being conscious of living.” In keeping a positive atmosphere, you are being a problem solver that tries to think of a better solution than the “realistic” one.
If you are not a visual person, perhaps listening to or watching a recording of something that puts you in a positive mood right before you tackle writing may be an option. Or, perhaps you just need to add to the original idea and speak the phrases you tack up each time you sit down to write, or even as you wake up in the morning. Go on Pinterest, Google or another site you know to help you create a positive atmosphere – just remember to not get distracted for too long.
MAKE yourself write
Even as I’m typing this, I will be honest – I’ve been struggling with what to say and how to say it. I was tempted to hold this off until the last minute, but knew it needed to be done. I had stayed out until 4 am last night (not of my own choice, I promise!) and found myself waking up weak from lack of sleep and, well, overthinking what happened the night before. I still decided, although I may have had some valid reasons for not working on this post now, that I would buckle down and finish it. And I am over halfway through!
Sometimes, you just have to give yourself the pep talk: “Ok, I am going to do this whether I feel like it or not!” If nothing else seems to motivate you, you’ve got to take discipline to the next level. No one is going to write your story for you, at least unless you’re willing to pay good money. Most of us want to create our own writing babies. So, get “angry” with yourself – not literally, of course. But, be determined you will not let a measly lack of sleep or scared thoughts keep you from doing the very thing you were made to do.
Excuses Are Doubt’s Favorite Allies
Lots of times, people can’t stay motivated because they give every excuse in the book not to do something. I have a friend from another state who is remarkably fun and refreshing when you are around her. She can make you laugh about anything. She is very gifted in telling you stories about her life – any subject you can bring up, she’ll have a story to go with it. But, one of the things that frustrates her closest friends is when she doesn’t want to do something. She provides excuse after excuse until you finally give in. People who know her and spend time with her understand she gives excuses. A friend in our circle has already labelled her “the queen of excuses,” and she is good at them.
Don’t let excuses prevent you from doing what you want. If you really don’t want to write, then no one should force you to become a writer. However, if you have a passion for writing, think about writing on a regular basis, get ideas and write them down (which I encourage), then don’t provide excuses for not taking the next step into writing. Write if you want to write, and don’t let your thoughts or excuses stop you. They will bring you down and you will be bound to them if you don’t stop them in the beginning.
While I was growing up, my momma always said, “Honey, whatever takes over your thoughts is what has power over you. Be careful what you give that power to.” Don’t let your circumstances have power over you. Will you give power to your excuses and keep on the path of not writing for years when you have a yearning to write? Or, will you kill the excuses and doubts keeping you from what you have longed to do and finally write that story or poem that has been echoing in the back of your mind all this time? You decide.
In order to conquer something, you’ve got to know what it is first. Self-doubt is not something anyone is proud to admit to, and can cause other behaviors to take effect, like bitterness, anger, frustration or even depression. Doubt alone is being untrustworthy of someone or something, but add the word, “self” in front and you are mistrusting yourself. If people aren’t confident in themselves, how can they expect others, like their beloved character from the stories lurking in their heads, to be confident in them? Evidence has proven that everything that happens in life is directly linked in some way to your thought life.
Doubt is like a disease: it consumes our thoughts, which spreads to our motivation, until it finally reaches the core of our ambitions and prevents us from feeling adequate to follow our dreams. No matter what we do in life, we will always deal with obstacles standing in our way. Your limits of doubt are tested when you see how well you have improved despite all odds you face. Perhaps life is getting in the way of your writing, which is your first obstacle. Or you are prone to excuses. There are always excuses not to do something. But that makes it even more important to pursue your dream no matter what excuse others give or you give yourself. Even if it's one baby step at a time, your dream in the long run will be worth the ride. Your obstacle may come from constant questioning if you want to make this character a certain way or if this plot twist is actually going to work. If you have already passed the monster of writing your story, then the battle’s almost over. However, you can still be stalled through your attempts to get published. If you've noticed, there is a trend in every process of the writing world – doubt.
For every writer battling doubt, remember that it only starts in one place – the mind. The first and best tactic to preventing doubt from wiping out your writing career is through the mind. Controlling your mind is harder than it may sound – if it sounds easy at all. The Bible teaches the best way to identify it, by “casting down every vain imagination.” Thoughts come so fast, so many times we don’t catch them until they already have swiped across the mind. Often, we must attack the thoughts before they manifest. One thought doesn’t ruin everything, but dwelling on the thoughts made them grow like a festering wound. The more the thoughts come, the deeper the wound gets infected, until it overwhelms the body and destroys it. In the same way, negative thoughts can do the same to the hopes and dreams you hold dear to your heart. That is why it is important to keep your mind in check and prevent the doubt from settling in a place it doesn’t belong.
If we are honest with ourselves as writers, we have timid feelings at times towards our writing projects. A student can write a college paper and feel uneasy about its completion before turning it in. A novelist attempting his or her third book in a new series that’s hitting the shelves can get tangled in the web of stories and characters he or she’s developed. Writing can be tedious and even mind-numbing at times. After the first few months or years of writing a story, just to discover you are not as far as you expected, it can be easy to fall into the volcano of doubt that you can actually complete this before your hair turns gray. It can become as complicating and time-consuming as working to pay off student loans or a house.
Before I make you fall deeper into the dark abyss of doubt about your project you are working on, I want to explain in a more metaphorical approach. When a captain goes to war with his army, he attempts to know everything there is to know about his enemy. It gives him the open advantage to know where his weaknesses are or where the captain’s strengths come from. Knowing more about the enemies that could cause you to give up on your writing will guard you against attacks. It will help you counteract them when they lash out. Finding signs that help identify doubt before it hits and using tactics to knock it down before it keeps you from doing what you worked so hard for is the best medicine for your writing. Together, we will identify our enemy - self-doubt - how to overcome it and see how it can work for us rather than against us.
In order to conquer something, you’ve got to know what it is first. Self-doubt is not something anyone is proud to admit to. It can cause other behaviors to take effect, like bitterness, anger, frustration or even depression. Doubt means you are untrustworthy of someone or something, but add the word, “self,” in front and you find you are mistrusting yourself. If you can't be confident in yourself, how can you expect others, like your beloved character who relies on you, to be confident in you? Evidence has proven that everything that happens in life is directly linked in some way to your thought life.
Doubt is like a disease: it consumes your thoughts, which spreads to your motivation, until it finally reaches the core of your ambitions and prevents you from feeling adequate to follow any dream you have. No matter what you do in life, you will always have obstacles standing in your way. Limits of doubt are tested when you see how well you have improved despite all the odds. Perhaps life is getting in the way of your writing, which is your first obstacle. There are always excuses not to do something, which is why it’s important to leave excuses behind. Follow your dream, even if it’s one baby step at a time. Your obstacle may come from constant questioning if you want to make this character a certain way or if this plot twist is actually going to work. If you have already passed the monster of writing your story, then the battle’s almost over. However, you can still be stalled through your attempts to get published. But the same is for every process in the writing world – doubt.
For every writer battling doubt, remember that it all starts in one place – the mind. The first and best tactic to preventing doubt from wiping out your writing career is through the mind. Controlling your mind is harder than it may sound – if it sounds easy at all. The Bible teaches the best way to identify it, by “casting down every vain imagination.” Thoughts come so fast, so many times we don’t catch them until they already have swiped across the mind. Often, we must attack the thoughts before they manifest. One thought doesn’t ruin everything, but dwelling on the thoughts make them grow like a festering wound. The more the thoughts come, the deeper the wound gets infected, until it overwhelms the body and destroys it. In the same way, negative thoughts can do the same to the hopes and dreams we hold dear to our hearts. That is why it is important to keep your mind in check and prevent the doubt from settling in a place it doesn’t belong. So, take the journey with us to tackle the biggest enemy of our writing lives.
FROM THE WRITER
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