I’ve been thinking all week about writing a new blog. Of course also asking myself…would anyone really even care about reading it?
The subject should be self-evident, just from that sentence.
As humans, I think we all doubt ourselves all the time. We’re constantly asking for input from other people.
“Does this taste good?”
“How do I look?”
“Isn’t my new car awesome?!”
“Watch this show I love! I think you’ll like it!” (subtitled, “If you like it, that means I’m not crazy!”)
Even more when it’s something we create, like food or art or writing. We ask for other people’s input. We want other people to like it. No matter how much I say “I don’t care what other people think”, that’s not 100% true. No matter how much I want it to be true and no matter how true it really is, I’ll never get past that 99%. Because we’re social animals, the opinions of our peers matters to us.
I think that’s why we’re our own worst critics. At least for me, if I’m over-critical, I know there will be less for others to find fault in. And that makes me feel better, knowing it’s as awesome as I can make it before I send it out.
By day I make electronic parts for airplanes. And that is fun because I create things. It is also fun because there are exact parameters to follow. I know if it’s wrong, I know if it’s not. It’s right there on the schematic.
For writing, the parameters are less sure. And you can get everything right, follow every rule, and still produce crap. Or at least, produce something no one will enjoy, or even read, for that matter. This lack of a blueprint is daunting, because there is no formula for success.
So, what if you punch self-doubt in the face, as Chuck Wendig suggested (WARNING link contains lots and lots of strong language) earlier this week? Great! Now you can work without the ugly spectre of doubt looking at the screen over your shoulder! No longer hiding under the blanket of optimism to keep the peeping eyes of doubt away!
Not so fast.
I am having so much fun with my second novel. Now that I’ve completed a novel and gone through three sets of edits, I’m pretty confident I can finish another. And I’m enjoying writing it. I’ve found my voice as far as long-form fiction goes. I’ve explored my characters, understanding their likes and dislikes, getting to the core of their motivations by thinking about their backstories, getting in their heads to understand not only how others see them, but how they see themselves. Even if they’re not a POV character it’s nice for me to know how they see themselves from inside their heads. It informs their decisions, as well as their expressions and movements.
Having done that, I find what situation I’m going to be putting them in for the scene, write the first few sentences, and let the hole in the page open. And it does, and it’s fun. I enjoy my characters, I like where the story is going, and I think it’s all going to come out alright. I’m about 15k words in, and I’m confident and happy. Because I’ve worked pretty hard on punching self-doubt in the face.
So here it comes. The doubt.
Instead of saying, “you’re not good enough” and “your story sucks” and “you write like crap” and “no one is ever going to want to read this”, it says:
“You don’t have enough doubt in yourself. You should doubt yourself more.”
Ok self. So I’m not critical enough for you now. Great. That’s…thanks.
I imagine dealing with this is just another version of dealing with self-doubt, it just is wearing a different mask. But I guess what this proves is that there is no getting rid of doubt, even if you get rid of doubt. Oh the world of art. What a tease.