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]
I think self doubt is simply the human condition. Most of us have it. Do what makes you happy seems to be the catch cry these days and if writing is your happy place, enjoy it for that alone.
Thanks Barbara, and I love the notion of writing as a happy place. It certainly is that for me – mostly!
Comments from bloggers and others are great for external validation, but mostly my validation comes from within. Deep down, I know when I’ve done a good job, connected with someone in a meaningful way or left my mark. Positive feedback is only icing on the cake.
Thank you, Gail, and that’s a great way to look at it. You are right that you usually have a clear sense of the quality of what you do, and a meaningful connection is something we aspire to. I appreciate you sharing your thoughts.
Good post. I know what it’s like to wait for an echo that never arrives. It’s very hard not to seek validation and I’ve a way to go before I crust over completely ☺️ but I write because I am driven to do so. Sometimes I delete the whole bang shoot and go under but inevitably poke my head out again. There are some good books to be had on how to refine your writing, depending on your ultimate goals. Have a good day, jml.
Thanks for your response, and it is encouraging to hear that I am not alone in wanting, nay, needing to write but also that a bit of internal and external support is sometimes required. Thank you for sharing and I hope you have a good day too.