Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Dealing with doubt

I received a message on Facebook the other day from a writer. Part of what it said follows:

You are really encouraging and inspiring. It takes discipline to write a novel and so many times I started and stopped, started and stopped, (listening to voices saying I can't do it, it's too hard, I'm not good enough, etc.) My goal in 2010 is to finish my draft and the arduous process of rewriting, etc.
I wrote back to tell this writer that I still hear those voices. I thought I would share here what I told her:

You know what's funny is that people think because I'm published I don't hear those voices. Not true! Even with 2 novels under my belt while I'm looking at my current work in progress I'm hearing all that same stuff about how I'm not good enough. I'm not disciplined enough. It's too hard. I've gotten myself in over my head. I'm not talented enough. The trick is to keep going any way. My tips for coping with those voices are praying, crying and listening to uplifting music to pump myself up before I start work. Jill Scott's song "Try" is a good one.
That got me thinking. "Try" isn't the only song I listen to. I posted some suggestions a few years ago. Here's a few new additions I've added.

"They said no you can't. We said yes we can."

"Keep your head up high. Believe in you, believe in me."

"I don't worry cause everything's gonna be alright."

"Well let the sun shine on your face And don’t let your life go to waste"

"I'm ready to go right now!"


MBB Founder and Editor Denene Millner said...


WONDERFUL advice! There isn't a moment during the day that I'm not questioning my skills—whether that sentence I just wrote is good enough, or my editors will like/accept it, or my readers will get it. It's a writer's process. But that self-doubt drives me as a writer—makes me push harder. Be better.

And that is all a good writer can ask for—motivation to be better, you know?

Thanks for your inspiring words, Carleen!


Oh, and music is a HUGE part of my writing life... I have thousands of songs that inspire me, but the ones in particular that get me through are "Alright," by Ledisi and "Imagine Me," by Kirk Franklin. Simply beautiful.

Chris Eldin said...

Terrific and heartfelt advice! I'll have to come back at a time when I have some peace around me to listen to the music. I also find music uplifting.
A friend of mine said something like "people are like elevator buttons. They can bring you up. Or they can bring you down." It's hard to think like this about the people around you, but when you have a dream, only share with those who will help in whatever way they can to bring you up.

(P.S. My favorite inspirational is an Elvis one---If I Can Dream)

campbele said...

This to me is just one more reason why we should allow students (and educators!) to rock the mp3 players during school: let's stimulate the creative juices, sooth the beasts within us and allow the pause that refreshes!

Katrina Spencer said...

The song that is getting me through the day right now is The Climb, by Miley Cyrus. (Yes, I am a 31-yr. old black woman who has no business listening to this girl, but I can't help. I like her.)
Check the lyrics:

There's always gonna be another mountain
I'm always gonna wanna make it move
Always gonna be an uphill battle
Sometimes I'll just have to lose
Ain't about how fast I get there
Ain't about what's waiting on the other side,
It's the climb

This song reminds me that no matter what stage I'm in (as far as my writing goes) I'm always going to have to keep pushing myself, keep challenging myself to write better. Success comes and goes, but its the climb that we remember and cherish the most.

Barrie said...

Very good advice. I'm guessing the voices never go away? Drat!