Defeating The Doubts

All writers are familiar with the urge to downplay our writing, our talent, our chances of reaching publication. If you’re a writer who has never entertained doubts, my perch hat is off to you. But I like to think most are in the same boat I am, wading in a sea of angst and fear.

Misery loves company and all that cliché malarkey.

But I’m trying to change this habit. I doubt I can stomp it out entirely, but I’d like to at least pummel it into submission.

I’m starting with this post.

I know how to write. I know how to create a story, build characters, write with humor, and put a smile on someone’s face. I’ve taken workshops and e-courses, studied craft books, and experimented with my own writing enough to see improvement and gain confidence. I don’t know it all, but I know more than I give myself credit for.

I have read religiously since age eight. Romance since age thirteen. That’s thirty years of absorbing worlds, characters, stories and author voices. I may not have an English degree or an MFA, but I will no longer feel inferior because these certificates do not adorn my walls.

Time and time again I’ve heard writing is a solitary endeavor. And in some ways, it is. But today, with Facebook, Twitter, blogs, and various other social media platforms, writing has become a communal endeavor. I’m making a concerted effort to find a place in this community, but admit to feeling as if I’m back in high school all over again.

I left high school more than two decades ago, yet I become that pimply, overweight girl who felt ignored. Dismissed, Inferior. It’s so easy to tweet or post a blog to little or no response and convince myself I’m not cool enough or interesting enough to be taken seriously. Don’t even get me started on the rejection emails in my inbox.

No more.

I will keep writing, revising, and submitting. I’m good enough to publish and the only way to get there is to keep trying. But I’m old enough to know, if I don’t believe I’m worthy, neither will an agent or editor.

From now on, I believe.

13 thoughts on “Defeating The Doubts”

  1. Marnee says:

    I think that pushing through the doubts, flying in the face of them, is what separates the children from the adults (or in this case, the writers from the hacks).
    It takes courage. Courage to let our voice really come through on that page. Courage to keep going in the face of horrendous odds. Courage to ignore the pitying looks on other’s faces when they find out that we’re pre-published after what they consider to be an unreasonable amount of time.
    Be fearless, my friend. Good things are coming for us.

  2. Terri, I think we tend to downplay our abilities or accomplishments, because we think it will hurt less if the outcome isn’t what we wanted. We try to insulate ourselves from future pain. Unfortunately, it also downplays our joy in the moment, of enjoying what we’re proud of now.
    So this is great advice, and I’m willing to follow it too. Doubt can go throw itself over a cliff. 🙂

  3. Terri Osburn says:

    Thanks, Mo. The “time” issue is almost more that I haven’t written as much as others than that I haven’t published. Four years is a long time to only have one completely MS to show. 🙂
    But it’ll come. Eventually. Patience, perseverence, and practice. That’s what I need.
    Thanks for the support. (And things are already happening for you!)

  4. Terri Osburn says:

    Donna – My issue is really with my own inferiority complex. I’m not that good or that smart or that cool. It’s all in my head but old habits are hard to break. It feels good to read the work and honestly be able to say, “This is good.”
    Of course, that’s usually followed by “Now let’s get it to great.”
    Hurl that menace off a cliff. Good thinking!

  5. Magdalen says:

    I’m so with you on the pimply overweight kid fresh out of high school thing. That’s precisely who I was when I started writing and it’s who I revisit when I get “the look” — that cool, level gaze that suggests I’m an idiot and worse, an idiot too stupid to know how stupid I am.
    The good news is that the high schooler isn’t alone any more, and some of my other “selves” are well able to get the point across that I’m not nearly as stupid as people wish me to be.
    The rest is just work work work. I can do that, and I’m finally mature enough to realize that I can’t succeed without the work work work. All the negativity can’t overcome work work work unless I let it.
    Great post — thanks!

  6. Terri Osburn says:

    Thanks, Magdalen. Sadly, I didn’t start writing until my mid-30s so you’d think I’d be more mature about the whole thing. But I still feel it all the time. Online. At conferences. I mean, I kick butt at Jeopardy, but you can’t prance through the internet telling people that.
    Well, I guess I could, but I’d probably get even worse “looks”. 🙂

  7. The ability to reach out and touch and be part of the writing experience with other writers is a double edged sword. I suppose, to consider high school, it would be like having a group of tight friends all through grammar school and you all want to be cheerleaders so you all work at it. Years of working at it.
    A can do the splits easy peasy. B can do handstands and stay balanced for five minutes! C can jump three feet into the air!
    Everyone has talents, some more, some less. But you’re all tight and working. And then the tryouts come.
    Two are chosen from seven of you. Damn. Now, you all knew they only took five and some of the older ones were returning. But still! It stings. It hurts.
    With writing you start with a group and the same thing happens. Save that tryouts are constant (means the pressure is constant)and the ones chosen sometimes move upward, and sometimes end up back in the common ranks.
    It’s a community with writing. And it is a lot like high school. With trends and who/what is popular and feeling left behind but some get great grades instead and there are academic awards and some play sports and I’ve totally lost control of this metaphor!
    Gist? Yes. You just have to believe in your abilities and keep writing. Keep believing!

  8. Terri Osburn says:

    That is a perfect analogy. Ironically, I did not have that exact experience in high school, but I have since starting this writing thing.

  9. Quantum says:

    I believe in you Terri!
    The power of intent is truly awesome in all sorts of ways.
    You just need to focus and everyone needs a little bit of luck *smile

  10. Terri Osburn says:

    Thank you, Q! The support from others is so important, but I’m my own biggest obstacle right now.
    The focus is getting way better. I’m having a blast with this new WIP and intend to top 10K by this evening. A rainy day home alone means I should have no problem hitting that goal. (And now that I’ve put it in writing, I don’t have a choice, right??)

  11. Sabrina says:

    I agree – we always never give ourselves enough credit. Sometimes when talking to the hubby about something to do with digital marketing or techie related he’ll stop and be like “You really know your shit.”
    Yep. I’m a lukcy girl.
    But the point is sometimes you do have to step back and remind yourself that there’s a whole world of information already in your head. You just have to let it out!

  12. Terri Osburn says:

    Sabrina, earlier this year my daughter and I went up to visit my family. My sister had an issue for which my brother took her to the ER. I assured my child she was fine, it was in her head, nothing to worry about.
    I was right, of course. 🙂 My child turned to me and said, “Why does anyone doubt you? You’re always right.” This from a pre-teen felt extra good and I will be reminding her of this statement for years to come.
    My point being, I can take credit for absolutely anything, unless it’s my own artistic creation. It’s SO WEIRD. LOL!

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