August 9, 2016

Conquering Fear and Overcoming Writer's Doubt

You're not alone.
As writers, doubt is difficult to escape. It follows us around like a shadow. It can be accompanied with depression, self-deprecation and any number of other issues which makes it all the more difficult to shake.

You wrote something yesterday, last week, maybe a few years ago. As you read through it you can't help but wonder - what is this crap? Or ew ... where did this come from? Maybe you're prepping to send out your manuscript to beta readers, to submit it for critiques, or maybe even send it to a publisher. But ... is it ready yet? You've already revised it a thousand times but maybe just one more version before it's really ready. If this sounds familiar, you've got writer's doubt.

Don't worry, we've all been there. In fact, I'm not so sure we'll ever shake it completely but we can take a huge step towards casting a light on these shadowy emotions and being prepared for when they try to return.

There is no cure for doubt. No miracle pill or workshop will make it go away. Only you can do it and, unfortunately, overcoming these doubts is just a temporary fix. If you keep writing, the doubt will creep back in (eventually). Sorry. That's just reality.

You might be staring at the heavens screaming Ahh! Why me? The answer is simple - because you're human... because you're an artist and that's part of the process. It's difficult to be vulnerable and honestly, short of direct mind-reading, what's less personal than letting someone (read your stories and) take a walk through your thoughts? To meet the characters and see the scenarios and settings you've created? Really, it's intense and learning to let go and take a bit of criticism is tough stuff.

It helps to remember that whatever it is you're writing at the moment doesn't have to be absolutely perfect. Of course, it shouldn't be riddled with grammatical errors or burden the reader with a painfully predictable plot, but it doesn't have to be 100% perfect either. This is a craft where we're all learning as we go. So this project might not be your best work ever but as long as you can make it the best that you can with the talent and skills you currently possess, there's no shame in that.

Another thing that's good to keep in mind is that nobody can tell your story the way that you do which is to say that no matter what anyone tells you- you are a special little snowflake.

Someone once said that criticism is how you know you're onto something special, that you're writing something that matters. If it didn't matter to the person criticizing it, they'd let it pass by without commenting. If they care enough to log into Amazon or Goodreads, then you've touched them in someway. Even if they reject your works, you've made them care enough to take the time to complain.

As long as you've put forth the best work that you can, don't doubt yourself.  Not everyone will love everything you do. That's just reality. It's bound to happen at some point and when it does, it means you might be on the right track. 

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