There are times, particularly when I am working on a longer project, when it feels like I am writing word after word and there is a part of me that wonders if any of it is any good. Is this really the best use of my time, even if writing gives me a particular kind of pleasure, a mix of discovery and creativity and wonder? What if I write thousands of words which nobody but me will ever read?
A sense of inadequacy or fear of failure is a normal part of the creative process. The logical part of my mind understands that. But occasionally the validation seeking part of my mind wants a bit of reassurance.
So who cheers on a solitary writer?
I do. First of all I need to accept that there will be times when self-doubt will come a-knocking and will try to unsettle me and distract me with other things that need to be done or can be completed with a more tangible outcome than writing. Then I need to understand what to do to combat this self-sabotage. Stay put. Keep writing. I like to work towards word goals with most of my writing, so if I can reach my goal of hitting the 1,000 word mark (or whatever it is), I can usually bypass the self-doubt and continue on with what matters most – the writing.
Sometimes I need someone else cheering me along. Seeking external validation can be tricky, and there are no guarantees that someone else will be as amazed with your writing as you are. Putting yourself out there to seek constructive criticism also exposes you to receiving feedback that you may not want to hear. The criticism that unsettles me the most is usually the most accurate. I just need to digest it first.
But the opposite is also true. It is great to receive feedback around how believable your characters are, how the twist you tucked in at the end paid off, how authentic the world you have created is to someone with less emotional attachment to the work than you. This can be a source of great motivation, confidence you can call upon future self-doubt visitations.
Who cheers you on with your writing?
[Photo is of outdoor exhibit in Main Street, Lithgow – an exquisite collection of birdhouses]