I have a confession to make. I didn’t write very much in December. In fact, I had a great internal battle about whether I should give it up entirely.
Anyone who is a writer knows, you can’t just stop writing. It is something that comes out if you want it to or not. (And more likely when you don’t want it to, rather than when you do.) I pondered for a while but I didn’t talk about it. First, I was afraid my friend would think that I was looking for sympathy or pats on the head. Second, I was afraid my friends might deliver swift hard smacks to the back of my head. (Or even scarier, what if they agreed that I should give up my silly writing dreams?)
Eventually, the simple fact that I was afraid I would be told to give it up, finally sifted through my self doubt to make me realize I didn’t want to. Because if I did, wouldn’t I be feeling relief rather than dread?
I am still wrestling with that dragon of self doubt. It keeps asking me questions that I don’t have the answers to. Am I good enough? Does anyone want to even read what I write? Why would someone chose one of my stories over all the many others out there? What if I finally get my stuff where people can see it and they scoff and toss it aside before giving it a chance; because I over looked something simple, like a spelling or grammar error? (That last one really scares me. I have friends that do that so I know it isn’t just paranoia.)
Writing is a very solitary thing. You spend a lot of time in your own head. This means you face the good and bad about yourself all the time. You struggle with it. When you can, you pen it down on a page. (Pun intended.)
I am not writing this to seek sympathy. I am writing to…well, write it out. Things look much clearer on a page than they do all jumbled up in your head. I am not giving up even though I still feel a bit downhearted at the moment. I am told that many writers go through the “Am I good enough?” struggle. Big names with many book contracts under their belts still doubt themselves sometimes. It’s a hazard of the occupation.
The important thing, the thing I have to remind myself, is to just keep putting one word in front of another. If I can do that then I’m bound to get somewhere eventually.
Ego. Every writer that I have ever met (including myself) has one. That secret voice that assures us that the words we put down are some of the best that have been written in the history of the world….okay maybe not an ego quite that big. (Though I have met a few people who do have egos that grandiose.) Still the ego is there, like a brightly burning firebird. It tells us that our work is better than even some well selling authors. (Our egos are sometimes correct in this.)
For me, this proud voice usually appears when the writing is going well and the story is falling from my finger tips with hardly any effort at all. It crows loudly when I am on fire with inspiration. Having an ego isn’t necessary a bad thing as long as it is kept in check. It pushes us confidently forward. It allows us to take steps that, if we stopped to consider, might make us hesitate under normal circumstances. Of course, if you let it run wild it will rage out of control leaving you with ashes instead of light.
However, as in most things, their is an opposite side to this coin. Self doubt. I have never met a writer who didn’t possess this (in spades) as well. If ego pushes us forward and gives us an unusual amount of confidence then self doubt holds us back. It makes us ask negative what if’s. (What if I screw up? What if I’m not good enough? ect.)
For me, the self doubt dragon raises its head when I haven’t written in awhile or I reach a difficult spot in my stories. The ends of first drafts and sometimes even second drafts are often written in the shadows of the self doubt dragon. It tells me just how much talent I lack and encourages me to give up. Sometimes it is a real fight not to just give in to self doubt.
The battles that rage inside books are nothing compared to some of the battles authors fight just to write them. Each book is its own adventure. Each story has its challenges to face in order to get the words down. There are always two sides to every story; one is in the words, the other is in the writing.