We waste so much potential every day when we listen to self-doubt.
This week I talked to other creatives about the things keeping them from progress in their work. By the end of the discussion, I realized we had one common enemy: Doubt.
It’s natural to fear nobody will like our work. Fear makes us question whether our projects are worth pursuing. We struggle with doubt throughout our lives, but I’ve noticed many people succumb to doubt instead of soldiering on…they quit altogether.
As a writer, I can best explain this with experiences in the writing process. However, this isn’t just a writer problem. Anyone with a dream will find this block on their road because we have been trained to think small and reasonably.
This feeds the doubt, making it a constant struggle, but not impossible to overcome! If you feel self-conscious about your work, it’s easy to think you’ve failed. This is not true! We all experience self-doubt, but what matters is how we deal with it.
One thing is certain: Giving up won’t solve your problems or satisfy you as a creative. It’ll only douse your dreams like water puts out fire; if you don’t make an effort to protect that flame, you’re letting doubt kill the fire!
What should you do when faced with doubt and lack of confidence? Here are some things that have worked for me in the years I’ve found I could write with confidence:
Get critique partners. The creative path isn’t meant to be traveled alone. We may prefer to write in silence, but without peers to cheer us on it becomes a chore. Find a few like-minded people who share your passion and talk to them when things get rough. If you have friends with you, the creative path becomes an adventure.
Know your limitations without limiting yourself. If you don’t think you’ll be able to write a book in two weeks, don’t expect yourself to. However, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t aspire to achieve more than your average. Add five minutes to your daily writing time; read a few more pages before putting the book away. Don’t discourage yourself by climbing in a box or setting goals too high.
Take a break. Don’t know how your book is going to end? Set it aside for a couple of weeks and work on another project. The more thought you put into your project, the better it will be; sometimes it’s good for you to take time off. However, remember to resume your project! Leave a sticky note on the wall telling you when to get to work again.
Doubt and fear aren’t going anywhere, and they’re hard to ignore. Just remember you have a story to tell; no one else will say it like you can.
On the other side of fear there’s fulfillment; keep going and there’ll be a beautiful moment when you’ll hold a finished book in your hands. You can do it…you can tell that story and make this moment happen.
How do you overcome self-doubt? What do you tell yourself when it feels the Muse has abandoned you? I’d love to know how you face this challenge!