Overcoming Doubt As a Writer

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Doubt

I’ll be honest. I’ve been struggling with doubt quite a bit lately, especially as the writing conference is getting closer. It is only a week and a half away, and I am wondering if I am just a total wingnut for doing this. As remedy for the unwelcome invasion of writer’s doubt that seems to be making itself at home in me, I’ve written a few thoughts on doubt.

Perhaps you struggle with doubt in your writing, as well. Or maybe you don’t. Maybe you are a picture of confidence. Congrats. If that’s the case, this is just for me then.

1) Doubt is inevitable. It may sound obvious, but the sooner we can embrace the fact that doubt is part of the writing life, the more we are ready to handle it when it comes. The most successful people in the world wrestle demons of doubt everyday. Why not me? Why not you?

2) Doubt is a positive sign. If you are exposing yourself in any way through art, doubt will be right there to shout you down. Doubt just may be a sign that you are doing something worthwhile, and if that’s the case, by golly, bear down and get it done! It may be hard, but it will be worth it.

3) Doubt can be harnessed. In my mind, this is the best part about doubt. It does not have to defeat you. You can let those voices in your head become the fuel for improvement. You will prove them wrong. You are proving them wrong every time you sit down at your desk and hammer out another 1,000 words.

One of the best blogs out there (in my humble opinion) that deals with the topic of doubt in the writing life is Bryan Hutchinson’s blog The Positive Writer. There are many great posts on the topic, and he even wrote a book called Writer’s Doubt. How fitting!

So how about you? When was the last time doubt crept into the midst of your writing? How did you deal with it? Feel free to leave a comment!

 

Goodbye Netflix, Hello Novel

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I love Portland in the summer. It’s true we live with rain most of the year, but this is when we get to enjoy all the green the rain brings. It’s been awesome to head outside on adventures, and for a writer, that always seem to make the creative juices flow better. In fact, this is a great article by Colleen M. Story about how the greats used walking in their creative process. Below is a photo from an urban adventure with my friend Sarah. My favorite Portland bridge is in the background.

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So lately, I’ve been thinking about the word no quite a bit. This is a word I wrestle with constantly in my life. Like many, I struggle with saying no to people, saying no to commitments and saying no to good things in order to have time for great things. Michael Hyatt has some great resources on his website about having good life margin, but I wanted to talk a bit about no specifically in relationship to pursuing the writing life. What will you say no to in order to make your writing dreams a reality? Here are some things I have (and am continuing) to say no to in order to make writing happen every day.

1) Movies. Yep, I still watch them, but not nearly as many as I used to. This not only gives me time for writing, but for reading in the evenings, as well. At any rate, I love movies, so this has been a gradual transition, and not without pain!

2) Television. I don’t have one. Kind of like chocolate in the house. If it’s there, I will eat it (possibly in one ungodly sitting). If the TV is there, I will turn it on, so it’s just easier if I don’t have one around.

3) Sleeping In. Now I will admit; I am a morning person, so this is not as much of a challenge for me, but it’s one that I try to enforce, even on the weekends. There is less distraction, more quiet, which for me, inevitably leads to more productivity. This is the single biggest factor that has changed my writing life. I simply get up early and write immediately, every day.

These are simple things. Pursuing the writing life does not involve turning your life upside down and abolishing every single bad habit you have or erasing every commitment on your calendar. It simply involves saying no to a few strategic things, and saying yes to the one thing you are passionate to pursue.

What things have you given up in order to make space for writing? How has it been difficult? What benefits have you seen? Feel free to leave a comment!

 

 

The Writer’s Conference

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Well, too late to back down now! I have registered for the Willamette Writers Conference, which is coming up the first weekend in August. I am stoked, so nervous and just plain excited to be following through on this goal. It doesn’t matter what happens at the conference…the big step for me was signing up in the first place!

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That being said, I have signed up for a couple of pitches and I plan to pitch my novel at the conference. Again, the biggest factor in this whole scenario for me is conquering fear. I have always been terrified of sharing my work, of having someone belittle my efforts and say to my face, “Hmm well, this story basically sucks. And you suck! Who do you think you are?!”

Does this happen to you, as well? The more times you replay the vignette in your head, the more monstrous it becomes. Before you realize it, the nightmare has descended into you crawling under a table to hide as the seven-foot-tall literary agent smacks you repeatedly with your manuscript and a gawking crowd gathers around to watch the fun.

Pretty sure this won’t happen. Pretty sure.

Anyway, if you want to know more about the conference, you can look up details here. What was your first conference like? Have you pitched before and how was the experience? Would love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

The Foundation of the Writing Life

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So many people want to be writers. They talk about it, they read books about it and they dream about the day when it will actually be a reality. I know because I was one of those people for many years. For a long time, I idealized being a writer, dreaming of a romantic life which entailed me sipping espresso on a balcony on the Mediterranean while the words flowed from my pen and my hair blew in the balmy breeze.

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I know I’m not alone in this fantasy. But of course, this is not reality, as anyone who truly has a compulsion to write will tell you. Most of the time, we are writing in the midst of clutter, noisy kids, full-time jobs, bills and dirty dishes. We do not write for the romance of it; we write because we have something to say. Any illusion that life will stop to give us those moments of inspiration has long since flown away, and we are left with a raw desire to get words down on paper, no matter the cost.

This then, is the foundation of the writing life. Unless you have something to say, you will never survive the daily grind of writing in the midst of chaos.

Will there be moments of romantic inspiration? Of course! I have written on the Mediterranean (although my hair is frizzy and didn’t quite blow in the balmy breeze the way I envisioned) and it was awesome! But so is completing a 100,000 word novel in the midst of a crazy life. It is the deep-seated knowledge that you have something to say which will keep propelling you forward.

Extraordinary work is often forged in the fires of an everyday existence.

So, when you are feeling discouraged, come back to the foundation: write because you have something to say. You personally have something to say that no one else can express.

Do you feel this conviction in your writing? What foundational things do you hold to that keep you going through low times in your writing? Feel free to share in the comments!

Reading Contest Update: Dad and I were reading maniacs during the month of June! We were neck-and-neck most of the month, but he beat me out at the end, 1,227 pages to my 1,158. Way to go Dad! Still, I am undaunted…