Writing is definitely a task for the confident and the brave. I think that pursuing a job in the creative field, like writing, is probably one of the most nerve-wracking and stressful choices one can make. Why? Because you’re putting a piece of yourself out there to face the scrutiny of an incredibly harsh world. Any piece of writing you create is vulnerable because it’s terrifying to think that others might not like your work. And if people dislike your work, then it can lead you down a terrible spiral of self-doubt that your idea wasn’t good or that you don’t have the talent. Delightful right?
I believe writing is a lot like art (in fact it’s its own form of art) because to create you have to face a blank page and make something out of nothing. As a result, what you create is incredibly personal – your work becomes your child. You can’t hide if you’re a writer because if you try to avoid authenticity, vulnerability and letting your creativity free, your writing will inevitably fail. To choose a life where you have to create is like choosing to stand naked – first just for yourself and then for the rest of the world to receive and judge as they may. Eventually, you have to put your work out there to be judged, and the result always includes an ego-battering of some nature because nothing is ever perfect, and there is always someone who doesn’t agree. In short, even if you finally have something worth sharing with the world, you still may not think it’s perfect, and there are always people with negative opinions.
So, with all of this going on, how on earth are writers meant to be brave enough to risk the negative backlash? There’s just something so magical about building a world from scratch, having characters that you can create and change and a story that you can control (unlike in the real world where sometimes it feels like you have nothing, not even your thoughts, under control). However, creating something also makes you vulnerable because you expose yourself to the chance that people will critique your work or not even like it. It’s hard enough to write a piece, and harder still to put it out into the world, so to have your work critiqued and torn to shreds when it is so close to your heart can be a fatal blow.
I’ve always wanted to be a writer, ever since I wrote my first very poorly structured story in pencil squiggles at the age of six. Back then though, I was brimming with confidence, convinced that I had the potential to become the next JK Rowling (I mean what writer doesn’t aspire to such incredible goals?). Now though, I have about as much confidence with my writing as Bambi on ice … I went through quite a shattering experience last year when it came to my creative work. I won’t bore you with the details of my sob story. Essentially, I did a creative writing course, and my feedback from my instructor was …. more destructive than constructive. What I mean by that is my instructor gave me plenty of feedback on how to improve my piece, and I worked hard with her to incorporate as much of it as possible, but when I received my report, her comments made it seem like the piece had gotten worse (despite her encouragement that every time I went back, it got a little better). So, long story short, I ended up feeling like I just didn’t have the talent or ability to write, and I stopped.
You might be thinking that this would be the time to insert some inspiring quote about how it doesn’t matter how many times you fall, but how many times you get up but thinking like that honestly didn’t inspire me to start writing again. I was scared, and my fears about my work had really consumed me. I was self-conscious about everything I created, terrified that I would always be a creative failure and having my dream of being a writer augmented and exaggerated those fears like you cannot believe.
However, I couldn’t stop writing forever. It’s such a big part of me and … I missed it. I needed to figure out how to cure my writing ailments, and for anyone who’s gone through a self-doubting period of creative fear knows that it’s a tough hole to crawl out from.
So what did I do to fix this?
The answer actually came to me when I was scrolling through Facebook. As with modern technology, I’m sure my phone and all my cookies had been spying on me and somehow figured out I was having writing doubts, so low-and-behold I came across an ad for a creative writing class. Not just any course though, a Masterclass by Margaret Atwood. And the cherry on the cake was that I could get a membership at a huge discount. (How on earth this all happened so coincidentally is beyond me, but I’m too terrified of the mighty powers of google/cookies etc. to question it). So I decided, why not go for it? What more did I have to lose?
The masterclass turned out to be precisely what I needed. In fact, one of the first classes I did was about dealing with your fears as a writer. Psychic much? The class helped me re-invigorate my creative juices, and the best part was that I could do it at the pace I was comfortable with. Since I started doing the classes (I’m now on my third instructor), I’ve even started writing a new novel.
The truth is I don’t think I’ll ever not be self-conscious about my writing because it’s incredibly personal. However, it’s important to remember that one negative experience doesn’t invalidate you nor your work. I know I should have realised this earlier, but sometimes you just need a kick in the butt (or a year of crippling doubt followed by a family intervention, a revelation and some inspiring classes) to make you realise it. So if you’re going through a period of self-doubt about anything, I know it’s tough, but you will get through it. The key is to find just one thing that inspires you again and to not let it go. Also, remember to go at the pace that suits you. If you are doubting yourself, you don’t need to go overboard and do loads in one go. Instead spread it out so it isn’t too overwhelming and you can slowly get your groove back.
Have any of you struggled with self-doubt and something you enjoy? How did you get through it? If it’s writing you’re self-conscious about, I know it’s scary, but you’ll never be able to connect with someone who loves your work if you don’t share it. So, in the spirit of sharing, would any of you be interested in me sharing some of my creative work, or like to do a guest post, or share your creative work? Please let me know and remember – embracing your passions is worth facing your fears. 😊
Lots of Love
Blondey on a Mission xxx
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