This article was contributed by Megan Hicks.
All writers experience moments of self-doubt when writing. Even the most eloquent and successful writers have moments when they feel that they’ve earned the title Worst Writer in the World.
It’s perfectly natural to feel that way sometimes, however, those feelings do have to be put in check so you can overcome them and move on. Here are some ways to work through self-doubt and keep writing.
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Relate to other writers
Writing is such a solitary endeavor that sometimes it can cripple writers with loneliness and self-doubt. Being able to see yourself reflected in the eyes of another writer is an essential part of the writing process. If you don’t have other writer friends, you could join a writing group. Or ask a close non-writer friend to read your work. Anything that will give you the attention and care that you need in order not to feel like you’re going it alone.
Be kind to others
Do something nice for someone else. This has nothing to do with writing, and yet it has everything to do with writing. Sometimes writing can lead you down a road where you get so caught up on your own mind that you forget that you live in the world. So, get out there and interact with people. Do a favor for a friend or help someone who needs it. These acts not only give you the necessary social and human contact you’re craving, but they also make you feel good.
Feeling good = feeling better about yourself = feeling better about your writing.
Be kind to yourself
You may also need to give yourself some TLC. Taking a break from the desk or all the lowly tasks you’re accomplishing in order to avoid sitting at the desk (like cleaning out the freezer, filing your taxes early, scheduling dentist appointments) can give you a much-needed boost. What about treating yourself to a spa day? A massage? A nice bottle of wine? A movie? A long walk or a trip to the beach. Whatever it is that can help you to relax and unwind will also relieve the mental stress of your self-doubt.
Be your own fan
Think about your best work. What’s your favorite line in your poems, stories or novels? What are the positive words people have used to describe your work? Think about all the great things that people have said about you and remind yourself that your writing does not suck and that you do write well.
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Maybe along with the words of praise, you’ve also had some words of non-praise. Maybe some of those words hurt. And maybe you’re not able to write another word because you’re afraid that a) they were right to criticize you and b) you can’t bear any more criticism. Being a writer is a truly paradoxical experience.
You have to be sensitive enough to take in the world and explain it to others and yet thick-skinned enough to handle the criticism when it comes. Don’t let negative words stop you from creating. Remember, it’s easier to criticize than to praise. So imagine instead that for every criticism you received, there were ten praises you didn’t hear. And carry on.
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Remind yourself why you write. Read a great piece of literature or a poem in order to evoke those feelings that made you want to be a writer in the first place. Allow these words to inspire you to keep working on your own piece.
Don’t be too precious about your work
All artists are striving to tell their truth. It’s a difficult and humbling endeavor and one that sometimes leads to paralysis. It’s your vision, your dream and you want to make sure that you get it just right. Well, maybe it’s not as important that you get it just right and it’s more important that you just write. Don’t fall into the trap of falling so in love with an idea that you can’t move on from it or even finish it. Do the best you can. The more space you give yourself to make mistakes, the more you’ll grow as a writer.
Don’t compare yourself to other writers
It can be tempting to look at someone else’s success and feel jealous: I bet Stephen King never had writer’s block. Or I bet Hemingway was never rejected. All writers struggle with writing and even with self-doubt. Elizabeth Gilbert confessed to feeling crippling self-doubt after writing her wildly successful memoir Eat, Pray, Love. The reason? She didn’t know if she would ever be able to write such a good book again. So, even best-selling authors fall prey to self-doubt. Remember this when you’re tempted to compare yourself with others: the difference between success and failure is one thing- perseverance.
Whatever method works for you, make sure you keep writing. Self-doubt isn’t worth missing out on giving the world the gift of your words.
Megan Hicks is a writer at http://write-this-essay.com company. She is an avid reader, beginner writer and is currently working on a book of short stories.