Saturday, August 7, 2010

Dealing With Doubt

I've probably blogged about this before. But it's something that writers have to deal with. All the time. No matter what.


There's so many different kings of doubt, too. While writing, after, writing, before writing. Same for revising and publication. That's right, you heard me. I said publication. I'm not there yet, but I know some awesome folks who are, and the doubt doesn't stop just because they've gotten a book out there. If anything else, publication ADDS to the pool that doubt pulls from to bring us down.

I wish there were some magical doubt-be-gone. If there is, someone send me the link cause I'd like to get me some.

In the mean time, here's some of the ways I cope when doubt is niggling at me.

1) Look at how far you've come. Writing is a long, often tedious road. But it's one that had landmarks along the way. I keep everything. Every. Thing. Notes jotted down on movie stubs, napkins, files with bits and scraps I wrote that one time when I couldn't see the screen I was crying so hard and I've no idea what I was trying to say but I wrote something.

Sometimes it helps to pull the old pieces out and laugh at them. Laugh at the horrible prose, the poor characterization, and lack of a coherent plot. And maybe be surprised by a tiny gem hiding in all the shit. Then go and look at something written last week, or this week, and there's such a marked difference. My God, the prose isn't all that bad, that character has quirks, and wonder of wonders, the plot actually works. Okay, so maybe it's not perfect, but I've come such a long way.

2) Commiserate with people that understand. There are dozens of social networks for writers out on the interwebs. Find a community that works for you, make friends, and share with them. Writers are spread everywhere, over every genre, and chances are there will be someone that's been in the same boat you're sinking in. Most of the writers I've met are more than glad to share their hard learned wisdom, and pull another writer out of the pits of doubt. We all want to succeed, and we want to see each other succeed too.

Just be sure to share in all the ups as well as the downs. No body like a constant Debby-Downer.

3) Take a step back. Get a hobby. Go outside (gasp! Yes! The horrible outside with the sunlight and bugs and PEOPLE.) Find something you enjoy doing that gets you out of the office, or away from the computer. Something other than reading. Writing and reading are intertwined, and while one can often feed the other, sometimes reading can cause the doubt bogging down the creative mind.

Spend a day shopping, or go to the movies. Take your best friend out for drinks, or go get your hair done. Get your mind off writing, and come back to it in a day or two when you're feeling refreshed. Chances are you'll see things in a new light (hopefully a better one) and the doubt won't be so loud.

I'm sure there are a lot of other ways to deal with doubt. What do you do when doubt starts prodding you in the back of the head?

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