I am participating in a writing contest called, “Overcoming Writer’s Doubt” sponsored by Positive Writer.
I do have some doubts about my writing, so I thought, why not enter? Maybe what I have to say can help me have some victory over this debilitating disease of doubt, or help others that might also be struggling.
I distinctly remember that terrifying, but exciting, day that I sat at my computer after uploading my first blog. I sat with my finger poised over the “publish” button agonizing over whether it was good enough…whether I was good enough? I kept asking myself, what if people don’t like what I wrote. What would happen? As much as I stressed over it, you would think that bridges would fall into the ocean if my stories weren’t “loved”. To read more about that first blog, click here.
Since that day seven+ months ago, I have published close to fifty posts read by thousands of people. I have attended some fantastic writer’s retreats where I get my fix of uplifting and encouraging interactions with other writers. I have entered writing contests and community writing events. I have actively been submitting my manuscripts to publishers and just yesterday participated in my first #pitmad event. The world is still turning and I am still writing. So what’s the big deal about “writer’s doubt?” Why is it so hard to overcome?
Writing for most of us is such an intensely personal and emotional vocation. Every word we put on paper or on the web reflects who we are and what we believe deep inside in our inner core. Whether it’s a blog, fiction, non-fiction or children’s literature, every word is a tiny reflection of ourselves. Putting words down for all the world to see makes us vulnerable. What fuels the “writers doubt” for me is people. They can be cruel. Words really do hurt us. That is why they say the pen is mightier than the sword. One blasting negative comment on my blog and I want to hide in a corner.
When I started this venture into the blogging and full-time writing world, my son (my internet, marketing, and website guru), told me to:
- Write from my heart and just share stories that people will love.
- Be prepared for the “trolls” of the internet that wander through life just looking for places to spread their negativity and bad comments.
My hope was that the good would outweigh the bad, and it has. But he also told me:
- Stay strong as to who you are and don’t worry about those that don’t get it.
So, now every time I post a blog or write a story or essay, I just remind myself of these things:
- Don’t take yourself so seriously. Be confident and committed. Work hard and dedicate yourself to your passion of writing, but in the end… real life is more about family, friends and our beliefs.
- You can’t, won’t and don’t have to please everyone all the time. That would be impossible. It will drive you crazy if you try. So “let it go.”
- Constructive educational criticism is OK. You can learn from that. Slamming and putting people down is NOT! Don’t accept negativity. Don’t give out negativity.
It’s like an ice cream shop that offers one-hundred flavors of delicious creamy ice cream. There is chocolate, vanilla, strawberry cheese cake, lemon, peach, and on and on. Every person that walks in the shop has the task of determining what flavor they are craving. They might take a sample taste of a few “new” flavors, but ultimately, it is up to them and them alone to select the best flavor for themselves. Just because they don’t pick maple bacon, doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with maple bacon. It’s just not for them. We need to BE maple bacon ice cream.
The writing world is full of an infinite number of stories, poems and essays just waiting to be written and shared. As long as the earth exists, there will always be another story and someone who loves it and someone who doesn’t. Just walk into any large bookstore. Look at the hundreds and thousands of books that are being purchased, consumed and appreciated by people. Reading is “in” and there are as many plots, styles and characters as there are people to enjoy them.
I recently joined a Plein Air writing event where we went out to various pre-selected locations to be inspired to write. At the opening orientation night, again, I was so nervous to meet all the other writers. After introductions, we were talking about writer’s doubt and I was sharing my struggles. One of the “wiser” writers turned to me and said, “You must be younger than me. I just gave up caring what other people think a long time ago. I write what I’m inspired to write. If they don’t like it, that’s their problem.” At first her comment really took me back and kind-of set me on the edge of my seat. Then I relaxed a bit and realized that she was right. If we worry so much about what other people think of what we write, then it will stifle our creative juices and stop the flow of words from our head and hearts to our hands.
So here is Dr. Connie’s prescription for overcoming “writers doubt.”
- Write for who you are.
- Don’t take it so seriously.
- Get a strong support base of friends and family that will lift you up and encourage your efforts.
- Don’t let other people’s opinions destroy your creativity.
- Participate in as many writer’s organizations, retreats, conferences and networking opportunities as possible, so you and your writing can be uplifted and validated.
- Write, write, write…don’t stop doing what you love to do.
- Sip a glass of wine. Put on some relaxing music. Take a deep breath. Let it go. Write!