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Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Anxiety and Self-doubt

In Heather Sellers' book Page after Page she says in order to learn how to write every day, "writers have to gently embrace ambivalence, anxiety, not-sure-ness."

Usually, I have my blog entry planned a week in advance; not the words, but the idea is formed in my head enough where I can type it up with ease, edit it a couple times, and then hit "publish post." But not this week. I drew a blank. What did I have to offer of value to anyone? There are many members on StoryCrafters whose experience in the field of writing surpasses mine. These peers--can I even call them that since I am so lame compared to them--post in the Bragging Rights section about their latest sales, while I have struggled along for the past three years squeaking out only one sale, a finished novel that might never go anywhere, and another whose progress seems destined to stay at the 15,200 words I wrote for NaNo. And yet, here is Sellers telling me I have to embrace these feelings. What kinds of drugs is this woman doing, and where in the heck can I get some?

"Anyone can start writing," claims Sellers. "To keep on creating and grow as a writer, you also believe you suck." Ok, now I'm sitting here screaming, "She understands me!" but she says it's a good thing I feel this way.

What? How can that possibly be? I must read more.

Then Sellers tells me, I have to start looking at self-doubt and anxiety in a whole new way. "Being unsure," she says, "is one of the things that helps you steer in revision." So, there is a good reason to feel this way. Hmmm...

What do you know, experiencing self-doubt and anxiety doesn't make me a worse writer, it actually helps me. Who would have thought? Now, I'll have to think of self-doubt and anxiety as my friends instead of my enemies. I'll have to be careful they don't move in and take over my house, but without them hanging by my side, I wouldn't be pushed into making every article, every paragraph, every sentence, each word, the best it can be.

I guess, I could hope to be one of those writers whose first drafts are close to their published works. Maybe I would feel better if my resume had a long string of impressive writing credits. But that doesn't make me a writer. The actual art of sitting down and putting pen to paper or typing out words on a keyboard is what makes me a writer. No one can tell my articles or stories the same way I can. And that is the value behind them.

2 comments:

Lorib said...

Hi Cheryl,

Anxiety sits on my left shoulder while self-doubt perches on my right!

Oh, to be a writer full of confidence, that sits down and cranks out a bestseller.

Imagine that!

Thank you for the insight. I think I might like to read that book. Now I'll have to learn to embrace anxiety and self-doubt as part of the writing process.

Good post ;)

Lori

Cheryl said...

I'm glad you found it helpful Lori. I've only read bits and pieces of the book, but those parts have sounded good to me. She has a new book out too.

Cheryl