April 18, 2011


I was emailing back and forth with a friend this weekend and she mentioned being paralyzed with doubt about what to write next. I want to tell her that this passes or at least improves with time and lots of writing practice, but I don't think it does. I battle this monster each and every time I sit down to the computer and try to write a short story or a chapter in my latest manuscript or even a witty blogpost (which I find scariest of all)-which makes sense, right? After all I'm not a raving success as of yet-no agent or publisher to speak of. But the thing is I know some published authors who admit to sharing the same nagging feelings of "this is trash and no one will get it, much less like it". And there's just no cure for it, no magic totem or ritual that makes it go away. Self-doubt basically sits on all our shoulders and whispers in our ears all the time about how bad our collection of words are.

So I have no encouraging strategies or secrets of success to share that have helped me stay parked in my office chair day after day for hours on end in the face of  Mr. Doubt (and sometimes his brother rejection). It just comes down to tenacity. You have to refuse to stop even though your arms are weighed down under the overwhelming strain of his considerable weight. You ignore him, big and obnoxious as he may be and eventually he shrinks until he's more Tweety bird-sized than Pterodactyl.

I think we all just have to give ourselves permission to simply put words on paper and see what happens. Perfection isn't possible and good doesn't happen without a truck load of revising, so that first run of thoughts on paper should be free of restraint. Give yourself permission to write outrageously, make mistakes often-you won't ever get better if you don't run headlong into your writing and leave self-doubt wallowing in your dust.

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