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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