Welcome to another round of the monthly Insecure Writer Support Group! Yes, once a month writers from across the globe band together to cry, scream, and support each other.
There is an episode from a TV show I used to really enjoy, Eureka, it was a scene where the lead character, acting upon knowledge sent to him by a future self from the past (don’t ask) is charging his truck towards what looks to him like an open gorge (but isn't). The entire time he’s muttering, “I trust me.” “I trust me.” When he gets to the edge he yells, “I don’t trust me!” However, even as he yelled it, he kept going and thusly saved the day.
That got me to thinking, how many times as writers do we not trust ourselves? Self doubt is sadly a major component of what we do. It’s not like in graduate school where you wrote a paper then received a grade and a detailed list of what worked and what didn’t. Here you write and write, never really knowing if you’re good enough. The reasons for rejection are huge, unlimited, and may have nothing to do with your ability. Unless you get a revision letter you will never really know. Sometimes it feels we are screaming into a dark abyss and the only answer back is our own echo.
So what do we do? Do we scream, “I trust me!” and barrel forth into what looks like a certain death? Or do we let the lack of trust in our own skills and thought processes make us hover on the edge?
Now while barreling forward does sound more heroic, it could be argued that nothing will be lost by hovering. Less risk after all.
Here’s why writers have to trust themselves. Lack of trust can destroy the writing. We’ve all seen it, the story where the same point is brought up time and again. Where within three pages the same concepts have been stated and restated numerous times. Those are signs of a writer hovering on the edge. They worry that the reader may not get it. They don’t trust in their own writing enough to take that leap that their craft is strong enough to carry the reader safely to the other side.
Self doubt can affect the writer in other ways as well. If the writer has too many self doubts, they may constantly search for validation. To the point of getting too much feedback on their work and changing it each time. Now don’t get me wrong, I love feedback. There have been many times when someone reading my work has caught things I was too close to see. Or suggested a better way to put something. But for the writer with not enough trust in themselves, this can be devastating to the work.
I read a blog not too long ago where the author said how her agent hated the first three chapters. The ones that had been in contests, crit groups, and polished until they gleamed. All rubbish. The author didn’t trust herself enough to not re-work those chapters after each contact with another person. It turned out fine for her; the agent loved the rest of the book. But the point is that lack of trust could have been fatal for that book.
So the next time you find yourself doubting your skills- find a way to charge forward instead. Find ways to improve your craft through books, conferences, workshops. Don’t give into the mindset of dwelling on a concept or idea repeatedly. Do it once, do it well, and move on.
Be willing to charge your truck into the abyss, you might just save the day.
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I really liked this post, especially the description of the TV episode. I'll have to remember that one. Thanks for the inspiration.ReplyDelete
Thanks Ken! The TV episode has stuck with me because of the connection to us trusting ourselves (and it was a fun show ;)).Delete
Thank you for coming by and commenting!
Ooo, that self-doubt monster is a mean one! Us writers all hear him and have little choice but to ignore him and charge ahead. Of course, we shouldn't ignore critic and comments (these are like gold). But we still have to believe that we can do it--and we can!ReplyDelete
Very well put, T! We need to keep our ears open to helpful criticism, but not give up on ourselves :). Thanks for coming by and commenting!Delete
Believe in yourself, believe in your story. That should be our mantra! :-)ReplyDelete
Great post, thanks for sharing your thoughts!
Exactly! Maybe we can put it above our computers to see everyday? Thanks for coming by and commenting, E.E.!Delete
Hey there Marie! Really good post! I'm the queen of self-doubt. I was the kid who used to get violently ill right before having to turn in my book report, even though I loved my story. I always wondered if it was good enough. It's that insecurity; it's that fear. I'm taking a writing class now and my turn in the 'Booth' is next week and I am petrified. I'm going to forge ahead and do my best, because my best is all I can do. :) Have a great evening! Lily-EvaReplyDelete
Hi Lily! Oh man, I hear ya on the fear part. But sometimes if we really look at why we're afraid to do something we find it's easier to face :). Good luck- I know you'll do great! Thanks for coming by and commenting!Delete
I loved Eureka! And the sheriff was right to distrust his understanding of the science behind what he was doing. But he was also right to trust that when it came to something important he would always do the best he could. Maybe it's time to stop distrusting our lack of understanding about every aspect of the writing processy and trust ourselves to do the best we can. It might just be good enough. It might be better than good enough.ReplyDelete
I think you just had a huge epiphany, Sharon! If it's out ill-ease at not really understanding the process that's causing the fear, and we move past that....BRILLANT! :)Delete
Thanks for coming by and commenting!