About to bite into a woe-is-me sundae? Has writing that work-in-progress lost its sweetness? Never fear. You’re not alone. *raises hand* I too have (and do on a daily basis) give into the saccharine allure of self-doubt…only to find it bitter and completely useless.
Seems like the Negative Nancy voice is always there to offer a non-encouraging word: You’ll never finish that project…You don’t know what you’re doing…No one will want to read it. Even as I’m writing this post, those three things swirl in my mind like a dark rain cloud about to burst.
And to that voice I say: Who the heck does self-doubt think she is? Hm? *lifts eyebrow* Who has time to worry? Between friends/family, a full-time job at city hall, Twitter (yes, the blue bird gets its own category), promoting my debut novel, revising another story, writing my current work-in-progress, attempting blog posts, beta-reading and somehow experiencing life…well, for Pete’s sake doubt has got to take a hike.
America poet, Sylvia Plath once said, “And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.”
This is so true. As a writer, you are your own worst enemy. Writing is such a mental activity that if self-doubt wedges its way into the deep, dark crevices of your mind, then it’s a struggle just to see a hint of creativity. But the imagination is always there…just needs to be lured back out into the open. On that note, I offer these three carrots to help get you in the writing zone:
- Make a playlist. For each one of my stories I have about twelve songs that set the mood, remind me of the characters, speak to me about their personalities or just make me happy. I find this tool extremely helpful for discovery time and plotting. And Lord knows, I am not a plotter, but that’s another post.
- Edit at the end. If I edit as I write then I get caught up in unnecessary details that will most definitely change on the tenth or eleventh draft anyway. (insert maniacal laugh here) A tip that has helped me to stop editing as I go is to read only the most recent five pages before writing that day. Then I don’t stress over the inevitable plot-holes, bad spelling, poor grammar, excessive southern dialect, etc. *winks*
- Finish the book. We all get distracted by a new idea…it’s human nature. But I try to keep in mind that my current characters need their story told too. And if I don’t do it…well, who will? It’s that feeling of typing the last word in a manuscript that keeps me going. It’s pure euphoria, like seeing the heavens open and winged unicorns fly to earth on a path of rainbows. Seriously, it’s that fantastic. And if you’re like me after you type the end, you’ll high five yourself, smile like an idiot and clap like a giddy school girl.