I first wanted to be a writer when I was 5 years old. My aunt would copy down the words for me as I dictated to hear my stories. It only took fifty-two years and three writing degrees in order to screw up enough courage to actually write my first piece of fiction. My Aunt long dead would be so proud of me, but there she would have been sad that it took so blessed long. I can hear her now, “what on earth took you so long.” The truth is it didn’t get easier I didn’t discover a treasure of untapped courage. I’m still terrified. I still have what is called imposter syndrome, but I’ve learned that I want to write more, and if I am going to write I need to do it now before it’s too late. This is how I dealt with my self-doubt. Not in any order.
- I surrounded myself with supportive people. My husband was good for that and my parents, although they are getting up in years they were good for that. They asked without being prompted, “did I write?” “how’s the writing going?” that means an awful lot when you don’t feel like a real writer. I tried not to bore them with too many details, so unless they asked, they did not get any information.
- Focus on my strengths, for example, I write great dialog I didn’t write only dialog, but I know I do that well so when I was struggling with world building and description. I little piece of my heart would remember that I knew how to write dialog and not every writer knows how to do that.
- Write every single day writing is like a practice. Today, for example I just had dental surgery a few days ago my mouth is still a little swollen and I have a cold but I’m writing today. I will revise my novel today. I am a writer today and writers write.
- Celebrate the little wins a bad day of writing is better than a good day of doing anything else. And every little victory counts. Celebrate the word count reached, or the scene resolved.
- Be kind to yourself, understand setbacks will happen and don’t beat yourself up. Take them in your stride and move on.
- Avoid comparing yourself to others. You are you and there is no other person who can tell this story the same what you can. Accept yourself for the writer that you are. For the strengths that you bring to your story and celebrate it.
- Don’t let your inner critic win. Your inner critic can be a game changer: silence it and you’ve won the game. The inner critic will whisper you ‘re not good enough a thousand times a day. If you silence it just once you’ll be so much the better for it.
- Faith. Faith is something that you believe in, but have no proof of. Have faith that if you keep writing you will be given proof that you more than a competent writer. Maybe even a good writer.
- Give yourself permission to write absolute garbage. Sometimes you need to tell yourself it’s okay if today I write absolute garbage. It’s okay if today I write the worst stuff ever written in the history of writing. Of course, you won’t, but even if you do. Who cares if you write garbage? Tomorrow is another day to write. Lastly.
- Let it sit with you and do it, anyway. Sometimes when it comes down to itself-doubt is part of writing and you just have to as the saying goes suck it up buttercup and do it, anyway. Not very sympathetic. But there that is the truth of it. When you make the choice to write you choose a hard life, there is not much sympathy in a blank sheet of paper or a blank screen.
In the words of Yoda, “there is no try, there is only do or do not.” When you choose to write, you write for all the reasons that people have written for all of history, because they can’t do anything else.