Sometimes, I have some really bad days. Sometimes, I have some bad months. And sometimes self-doubt sweeps me away to the forest of despair and anxiety.
I’ll be honest here because I hope this might help other writers who find themselves in a similar situation. You’re not alone. Everyone goes through times of doubt about something in their life even if never say anything about it.
January as a whole sucked. Not because of the numbers. I knew my word count would be down because I spent a lot of time revising and I redid the website. I had a huge case of self-doubt and worry. Is this change good enough? Have I done enough of this?
Tension collected in the muscles in my back and neck. With no masseuse in sight, I had to deal with it myself. Occasionally, I’d get a sore jaw because sometimes I’d unconsciously clench it. Tiny jackhammers pounded the inside of my skull.
I kept slogging through the mire of feelings and the points I needed to change in the manuscript. Would I ever get finished?
At one point, I stopped and looked at the little monster that had begun to plague me. And it was me. A far more annoying and negative version of the person I am and work to be every day. I had to fight the doubts point by point. The feelings weren’t going away without pushing everything back into the dark abyss.
Yes, the change is good enough. I’d fiddled and experimented with that part more than enough.
Yes, I’ve done enough of that. “That” being taking out adverbs. Some of them I managed to cut down to zero instances.
And yes, I will finish this. I’ll keep working on it until I do.
My methods of dealing with the self-doubt
- Take a step back and look at it objectively. Is this because there is something wrong with plot or character. Is something wrong that my subconscious knows, but I haven’t yet realized? This particular step usually happens during the actual writing phase.
- Go for a walk. Both the exercise and getting outside helps me. It gives me a little distance and relaxes me. When I’m walking, I can let my wander.
- Have confidence in myself. I have done this, I can do this, and I will do this again. My self-doubt can go suck on that.
- Clear my head of the negative, anchor heavy thoughts. When nagging anxiety steps in and I’m slogging through knee deep mud, I journal. I pour everything onto that page. Everyday worries, circular thoughts, doubts, writing concerns, drama, and … well, you get it, everything.
- Plan. Working with a map of what I want to do helps. It’s why I outline and why I started bullet journaling. I won’t get stuck and worry so much if I know where I’m going. I have what I need to do listed out for me.
- Practice and learn. If I get a rejection or an R&R, it’s not always a negative thing. The self-doubt monster might say, “See. You’re not good enough.” Okay, yeah, a rejection can sting, but it’s also an opportunity to improve and learn.
- Talk to someone.
- Put it in perspective. I’m writing a story here. I can fix problems with my story.
- Keep writing. There’s no better way to silence that wheezing, petulant peal of “you’ll never finish” than putting your hands on that sticky, chocolate-dotted keyboard or your prized pen and keep writing.
- Channel that anxiety into your writing and use it to make a character live and breathe.
So do you have any techniques to get past doubt?