Thursday, April 22, 2010

Writer's Doubt

Some writers are scarily confident in their work.  Fair play to them, they believe in their story and their writing skills enough to tell the world how good it is and they are.  Then, all the way down at the other end of the spectrum are the doubting writers.  The ones who wake up in the middle of the night worrying their last line wasn't as great as they had hoped it would be.  The ones who finish a chapter fully satisfied with its progress only to become convinced it is hopelessly bad within an hour.  They are the self deprecating ones, the ones who find their stomach's churning with anxiety at the thought of someone else reading their work.  The ones who constantly second guess themselves and their work.  The ones who constantly edit and re-write, struggling to find the perfect phrases that will add to the perfect story.

Most people who are creative have an awful habit of also being perfectionists.  This is, imo, why so many people who are gifted with a knack for manipulating words into just the right sentences avoid the task completely.  They are afraid they will never fulfill their dreams of achieving the perfect story.  So many perfectionists never attempt to strive for perfection because they know full well that they will fail.  What if, just short of perfection, there is a scale that is achieveable and attainable and better yet, one that readers will fall head over heels in love with?  What if the world is being deprived of the greatest stories because of fear of failure and that dreaded writer's doubt?

I've come across many people who should write but don't.  And many who want to be great but aren't.  And even those who will work hard until they are.  And then there are those who are really good but doubt themselves until writing becomes a chore, something to despise and dread and maybe even something to give up on.  They won't recognise that their story is complete because they will always see something that can be improved.  I think it is a good thing to want to improve but when you let writer's doubt get on top of you, it can be suffocating, so much so that writing anything becomes impossible.  There is nothing as restrictive as your own negative thoughts.  So let go of the doubt and give yourself a pat on the back every now and then.  And know that you are not alone, most of us are plagued with the same doubts and yet most of us still keep writing.  Even if it isn't great, even if it never will be.  There's a lot to be said for this kind of manic persistance.  :)

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