There has been nothing more toxic or damaging to me in my writing career as this demon of self-doubt. Don’t get me wrong, understanding my place in this world is probably a good thing. I know that I am not the next Stephen King or anything, so really I need to manage my expectations. But the doubt drives me towards not fulfilling any of those expectations at all.
If you go into a creative career thinking that you are the universes gift to the artform, you’re probably not going to learn very much. Mostly because most of the lessons that we learn are through failure and, when you think too highly of yourself, you can’t fail. Your friends and family can, your bosses and clients can, but not you. That’s a terrible place to learn.
Failure is that thing that should be driving us. The thing that gets us to move, to get off the couch, to write another 500 words. And when it hits us, it should be the thing that gets us off the ground again. So why do I find it so crippling?
The first time I get published, I am not going to win awards. Or at least, that can’t be the goal. That way, when it doesn’t happen, when I invariable discover that I am not perfect, it won’t be fear that stops me from trying. And I know that. Intellectually. I just seem to have a tough time convincing the rest of myself.
Not everyone is going to like my work. Some might even . . . gasp . . . hate it. That’s okay. That shouldn’t be the think that stops me from writing in the first place. I have plenty of authors on my ‘do not read again’ list who are more successful than I can ever hope to be.
Especially if I keep letting the self-doubt stop my progress.
Right now, it’s all consuming. I am working on getting a project out to the public. I am going through traditional routes first and the doubt is crippling. Writing emails and attaching copies might as well be driving nails between my toes. I can’t help but wondering when hope got to be so heavy.
The benefit this time around is that there is still progress. I haven’t balled myself up into the fetal position yet. I mean, it looks like it would be comfortable, but right now my drive to see what’s next is just that hair stronger.
So, tomorrow I am going to feed that side of myself again. I am going to keep writing like I have already found success. Maybe by the time I get there, I will feel like I earned it.