Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Self-Doubt Is Often Self-Created

Self-doubt might easily be termed a curse. At times, it certainly feels like some wicked old witch had placed a 7 year Curse on our heads. The problem is that we can't put the blame on others when we begin to doubt ourself. It's definitely a one-on-one, like it or not.

You've all heard that old plant a seed and it will grow. That works in both positive and negative ways. If you plant the seed of self-doubt, it is probably going to grow unless you perceive it as a giant weed on your writing path and stomp on it.

What creates self-doubt in writers? Here's a list of a few possibilities:

1. Multiple rejection letters

2. Poor critiques of material submitted to a critique group

3. Not liking your own writing

4. Past experiences in other parts of your life

5. Age

Let's look in more depth at the list, one by one.

1.  Dealing with rejection is no fun, nor is it easy to whisk away the feelings they bring like yesterday's bread crumbs on your kitchen floor. I've written more than once that rejections can have some positives. If you're getting rejections on the same piece of writing multiple times, take the hint. It needs revising. It doesn't mean you can't make it better.Tell yourself that all writers get rejected so you're no different than thousands of others. The key is to not get dragged down to a place where you can't crawl up again. We all get down when we get a rejection. That's human nature. Let it feel crummy for a day or two, then move on.

2. When you get a lot of negative reactions to the writing you submit to a critique group, it hurts. You probably went to the meeting with hopes of high praise. When it doesn't work out that way, it's tough. The best attitude here is to use the experience as a learning situation. Ask yourself what the group saw that you didn't? Ask yourself if their suggestions might improve the story or essay. It's a fine opportunity to grow as a writer.

3.  This one's simple. If you don't like your own writing, how can you expect readers to like it? If you don't like the things you write, take a step or two back and view your writing with more objective eyes. Ask yourself what it is that you do not like. Is the writing flat? Boring? Filled with mechanical errors? Rambling?

4.  If you've let past experiences in other aspects of your life lead you into doubting yourself, it's very likely you might do the same with your writing. I'm a believer in making a list of pros and cons of any situation. Then start emphasizing the pros and working on correcting the cons. And no, it doesn't happen overnight. It's a work in process forevermore for some people.

5. Age? I don't buy that one at all. I didn't start writing until my mid-fifties. The nice thing was that any editor who received my submission had no idea what my age was. She judged me on the words I'd strung together. When I started my blog, I chose the name Writer Granny's World. In retrospect, that was pretty dumb. Why advertise to the world that I'm a granny? On the other hand, it lets people know I've been around long enough to be an experienced writer. I hope to be writing as long as my mind holds out. I won't let my age be a factor until, and if, that time comes.

Be like the little engine that could. Every time you feel that self-doubt creeping up, just repeat the little train's mantra I think I can. I think I can. Worked for him, and it might work for you, too.

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