J.A. Stinger

Words Can Inspire The World

Don’t Let Writers’ Self-Doubt Beat You – 4 Steps to Conquer it

I’m getting increasingly frustrated. The kind of frustrated that leads to drastic, probably stupid, but definitely life changing behaviours.

I’m frustrated because I have shit to do, books to write, stories to tell. Yet two things are standing in my way. Life bullshit and self-doubt.

What do I mean by life bullshit? Oh you know… The crap, the stuff and the things… Shit that incessantly fills my day like, work. Fuck work, I should be writing. Having to pay bills. Tut. Such an inconvenience. Chores, cleaning, cooking. ALWAYS cooking. Then there’s life admin, you know, keeping myself clean enough I don’t get lice, my eyebrows neat enough I don’t poke someone’s eye out with a stray hair, emails, meter readings, food sho….sorry I fell asleep writing the list.

If that bore list isn’t enough to prevent me writing, I have to wage a daily war against the smarmy king of mind fucking himself: self-doubt. I hate it.

So here I am. Standing Sitting in front of you sharing my battle plan to nuke my self-doubt into the next mass extinction.

There’s this phrase: ‘Surprise people. Be who you say you’re going to be.’ I love that. The concept that we’re spending the majority of our time masquerading as something we’re not. Like fat middle-aged men dressed as clowns…

But it’s kind of true, isn’t it? I mean… are you really the same you in work as you are out of work? I’m not. I doubt you are.

It’s like friend circles. We all have more than one circle of friends and usually they don’t mix. It’s so we can be (however slight) a different version of ourselves. I’ve spent a long time trying to hide different parts of me, thinking I couldn’t possibly show all of me because…because why? Because the skinny bitch at work with big tits and fake everything, except her really big nose, might think I’m weird? Jesus. I need to get over myself. I was born weird. What the hell was I thinking?

I can pin point the first broken link in my chainmail. Someone once told me my personality was a risk to my reputation. Over the last 5 years I’ve let that… and a bunch of other really helpful shit people have said to me, fester in my subconscious. The result is I can’t recognise the person looking back at me in the mirror. Worse, I don’t even like this version of me. I’m negative to the point of irritation. I’m plagued by fears, self-doubt and a chronic case of not being able to see the wood for the trees. So much so it’s paralysing my writing to the point where this year alone, I’ve almost quit. Several times.

No more.

Blonde bitch tits and her jumped up mates can go rubber duck themselves off the cliff…

*wipes brow, sips wine, takes deep breath*

Let me start again…

Where are you going to be in a year?

No, really…

Not where you tell people you’re going to be, but where are you actually going to be?

photo from pixabay

Are you one of these writers people who wants to be a writer and says they write but actually either a) fucks about writing blog posts instead of her novel, yes I am talking about me, procrastinates on social media and professes to write? or are you b) an actual fucking writer that sits down and bleeds claret over their keyboard?

Self-doubt is a plague. A fucking plague. It’s worse than Damien Hirst’s formaldehyde. It will freeze you up. For life.

So let me ask you again. Where are you going to be in a year? Are you going to continue to be person A? or are you going to be who you say you are and be person B?

STEP ONE – Decision Time

The first step to reducing self-doubt to a snivelling, pant wetting wreck in need of palliative care is to make an effing decision.

And I don’t mean the: “hmm, shall I have the custard or jam filled donut?” while you scratch your arse and fanny about with work emails, kind of decision.

I mean the: how much do you really want your dream, kind of decision. Do you want it enough you’ll work after work, late into the night until your eyes are bleeding and your fingers are begging for a hot oil massage?

Have you got what it takes? Are you prepared to make sacrifices? Are you ready for a marathon? To stick to your work until it is done and edited for the 29875248975th time?

If you answered yes, then what the fuck are you doing standing in your own way?

See that’s the thing. Once you make the decision. A real one. One that cuts deep into your soul, there’s no going back. Not even a little whiny bitch like self-doubt can get in your way. If it does,  punch it in the fucking face and walk on by. Unless you decide you’re going to achieve something, you’ll never try.

I choose person B: In one year, I’ll have finished two books, minimum.

Who do you choose?

STEP TWO – Draw your sword

You made the decision to achieve your dream, in spite of self-doubt and fear. Awesome. But decisions require action. If you’re guna achieve Stephen Kingdom then you actually need to, god forbid, do some writing.

So step two is to take your pen out. AND write. Write proper words, not a blog post, or a piece of flash fiction. Write that big scary horrible beast you’re afraid of…your novel, or your competition story, or whatever Hansel and Gretel yarn you’re currently spinning. Just for five minutes. Everyone has five minutes. Taking a dump can last longer than that, so do it on the toilet if you really can’t spare any other time.

Ease yourself in. Write for five minutes. Break for ten. Write for Ten. Break for five. REPEAT until you look up at the clock and find it’s actually 12pm Sunday and not 12pm Saturday.

Or if the self-doubt is eating away at your ability to share your work, then take just a snippet. Start with just 200 words. BUT GIVE IT TO SOMEONE other than mumsy. Feedback is a gift.

If you’re too scared to submit to a competition, then JUST DO IT. Do a flash fiction one if you must, but this is your choice and your career. If you don’t submit/write/share you’re always going to be person A.

STEP THREE – Reward your inner child

I can’t claim this one. Joanna Penn’s idea of using a calendar, setting daily targets and marking them on it, is proper good’un!

It appeals to my inner child (as well as hers) and reminds me of my stars and cloud chart I had as a terror tot, angelic child.

By appealing to my inner child, and the thought of a) a reward and b) knowing that my word count is there, visible for all and sundry to see, is enough to make the shame of having zeros on display beat the self-doubt back down.

As you can see I had a bit of a dodgy end to the month (but I only started on the 20th). Green ticks are days I achieve my target, which is a minimum of 1000 words a day. Edit days are different, the word count is irrelevant. However, really, I should still be writing 1000 a day. So here’s to hoping May is better.

If I get more than 15 green stripes next month, I’ll reward myself, I don’t know what with, but it’s something to aim for.

STEP FOUR – Theme Tune

Everyone needs a theme tune. Find yours. Whatever your song is, it needs to be the one that never fails to focus you, to motivate you and to give you that Rocky on the stairs moment where you know you’re guna smash it.

Once you found it, play it constantly, listen to it in the gym, whilst you’re cooking and ironing. Set it as your alarm clock so you wake up on the ‘write side’ of the bed. Every time you hear it, you’ll know a) you rock, and b) you should be writing instead of listening to it!