How to conquer self-doubt October 6, 2012Posted by mattfarmer in writing.
Tags: creative writing, National Novel Writing Month, self-doubt, writing habit
This article appeared in my content feed today:
how-to-conquer-self-doubt-and-just-write It is a guest post by CC Hunter. It has 5 points which make sense, and of which I would like to comment. Now, I have seen many other ways to conquer self doubt, and gosh knows I have it in spades. I am a professional writer now. Before when I was a wage-earner, and wrote nanowrimo novels only, if I wrote something bad, and no one liked it, that was okay. Hurtful, but okay. Now, I worry that if someone doesn’t like my work, I won’t get them again as a client, and it will cost me money, hurt my professional reputation, and a bad word will be spread about me. Self doubt? Oh hell yes.
So, let me look at these 5 tips.
1. Be Aware or Peer Pressure.
“…If you’re hanging out with negative people, people who have lost their ability to chase their dreams, you’re at risk of becoming just like them..”
Now, while I witness this in other people, other writers, I can say that, surrounding me, are remarkably positive people. I have friends around me who cheered loudly when I chose to become a freelance writer, as if- yes this is what you are SUPPOSED to be doing. I had so many people cheer me on when I self-published my book as if- yes, this is what you are SUPPOSED to be doing!
I have professional mentors backing me up, wanting me to succeed, helping me along the way. I have people who are testing the waters with me, using my services on small jobs. I have been called- ‘enthusiastic’ which, I frown at and think- compliment? But then, enthusiasm is better than professional complacency, I figure.
I am surrounded by people who support me, encourage me, smack me over the back of the head when I doubt myself, tell me that i am skilled, and talented, and not just to massage my ego. I am thankful to all of them, and I have told them, I think. If not, hi. Thanks peeps 🙂
2. Ward off the message that you don’t know what you’re doing by continually growing at a writer.
I said when I started my professional career that I have known the craft of writing for many many years, but now I am learning the BUSINESS of writing. I can see in myself that, jobs I had at the start of the year, if given the chance to do them now, I would do a better job. I am lucky in that I have the chance to grow my writing career inside the comfort zone of a business networking group, rather than throw myself on the knives of pure capitalism where, if you’re learning, you wont get much repeat business.
But, I do grow as a writer. I do not think anyone will ever be fully developed as a person, as a creator, as a dynamic being. You always have something to learn, some way of growing. I am willing o learn, willing to grow, willing to listen to people when they say- I’d like you to say this, or this, with your writing.
3. Mentor someone else
I don’t know if I am specifically mentoring one person, but I do put on the elder hat when I am in the Nanowrimo forums. I am not the oldest person participating in my region, but I am the longest serving Melbourne member. I offer writing and creative advice, ask questions and the like. I find myself answering questions about how to plot or plan, by showing how I do it, my “railway line” technique. reassuring people when they overly complicate things. I speak with a voice of authority and experience because, while I may have only published this year, I have successfully written 9 novels prior to that.
And when it comes to professional work, I seem to be taking on the role of a mentor. I have been having a conversation about how to quote for a job, how to be strong enough in yourself to quote what you’re worth, and not what you think someone will pay if you beg them because you REALLY need the money. In this example, I found a website which displayed editing rates of academic writing. I figured out a rate for a client, and dropped $20 off it. That way, if the client questioned why so much, I can show them what the market is charging, and how I am cheaper than the market because i want their business. I passed this knowledge onto a friend of mine who wants to be a freelance editor and writer, but is still too afraid to boldly charge higher due to self worth. I figure, if you have the social proof of a price, and can beat it, then that’s one very good step forward.
I want to help others. I have so many people helping me, I want to pass it forward.
4. Be leery of ruts.
I have these. I get in a funk and can’t write. I get them when writing supporting documentation for myself, the kind of writing which might not lead anywhere but I have to do them anyway. The suggestion is you should write something else, another genre, another form. Go write by hand, perhaps read something. But me, I sometimes feel- if I am not writing, I am not working, and I need to work to get paid, but not all the writing I am doing is paid work etc etc etc. See where that leads?
5. Accept that sometimes you are going to fail.
This is a hard one to accept. With the economic situation, failing really isn’t a great option. I fail, then it gets tough. However, to learn, you need to fail. You find out what didn’t work, so you can make it work next time. It is how you accept failure as well, which makes you strong. Accept responsibility, if you can, and then control how YOU will not fail the next time.
When you talk about self-doubt, failure is the strongest poison there is. Doubting yourself to begin with, and then failing? It is a real bad mix. And you need to be willing to listen to, and believe, when your friends, your mentors, people who truly care about you and your work, tell you that you are good enough, that you are not a complete failure. They sometimes know more than you do.
These are only 5 suggestions and 5 items of self doubt. There are more, I know. But it is good to start with a small number, conquer those, and then work on the bigger picture.