Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Overcoming Self-Doubt On Your Writing Journey

Nearly everyone is a victim of self-doubt at some time in their life. For some, it becomes a constant companion. As the poster says, self-doubt is not something a writer wants to catch or hold onto. And, by all means, do not let self-doubt be an excuse for not writing or submitting your work.

If you doubt your own ability to write a publishable story or essay, you could end up closing the door to publication. If you don't feel good about what you've written, how are you going to convince an editor that he/she should pay you for it? 

Why do we struggle with self-doubt? Where did it come from? Who cursed you with it? There will be different answers for all of us. Perhaps a teacher or a parent put a negative spin on something you'd attempted. Maybe an older sibling laughed when you tried something new. Or a friend jeered your attempt at writing.

As a teen, I said that I'd like to go into advertising and, quick as a wink, my dad said, "That's not a job for a woman. It's much too competitive." I didn't argue with my male chauvinist father, but inwardly I wanted to show him that I could do it. It was the 50's and lots of women were told they could not do this or that. After high school, most girls had the choice of being a secretary, a nurse or a teacher until they got married. I ended up being a teacher and it wasn't until many decades later that I tried my hand at writing. I didn't end up in the advertising field but I know now that I could have done it. My dad's comment did not cover me with self-doubt. It worked the opposite. I wanted to show him that I could do something more than just a 'woman's job.' 

It would be so easy to wear a mantle of self-doubt after a negative experience as mentioned above. When parents, teachers, siblings or even friends, put you down for one reason or another, you have two choices. You can slip into the self-doubt mode and make it your habitual spot or you can take the I'll show them attitude and kick self-doubt out the door. 

If you are a victim of self-doubt, you have lots of company. I think some writers fall into that category at different periods of their writing journey. Maybe you've had several successes and then it all changes. You receive nothing but one rejection after another. That would be enough to sink you into doubting your ability to write. Hopefully, it is a short term feeling and not enough to make you quit writing.

What are you going to do to overcome this self-doubt business? Here are a few things to consider: 

1. Recognize it--it's perfectly alright to admit that you're a victim. You're definitely not alone.

2. Focus on the positives--negative thoughts foster negative actions. Dwell on the positives so that they come first in your thoughts as time goes on.

3. Ignore others who feed your self-doubt. It's all about you, not them.

4. Use a mantra that will keep you on the positive track. Remember the little engine that could? His mantra gave him success. Yours can, too. 

5. Develop that I'll show them! attitude.

We all suffer with occasional self-doubt. We don't want it to persist and become a constant in our life so we need to work on it for as long as it takes to climb out of the pit.

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