Posted by: Corri van de Stege | July 2, 2008

Write on Wednesday – A Writer? Who? ME?

 

Becca, in her probing and thinking about writing, and when considering her own self-doubt, which is as much ours, has set us another thought provoking question:

 

Are you ever assailed with self doubt about your writing ability, or about he reasons for writing at all?  Do you “follow yourself around nagging and suggesting and complaining?”  What are some of the negative things your (inner) Editor tells you? What could your Editor say to be more encouraging? How do you encourage yourself to keep practicing the craft of writing?

 

Oh my, oh yes, doubt is there at the most unsuspecting moments, suddenly making you feel so very useless and incapable of writing even a single paragraph that anyone might be interested in reading, let alone a whole story or a book.  This inner editor comes up, admonishes you, tells you what absolute rubbish you write about, millions of others can do this so much better, so why do you even bother? 

 

And then, and then.  Yes then I think but so what; it’s what I want to do, it gives me enormous satisfaction, it helps me think about relationships, about people and their interactions, and it helps me to see the rest of the world in a different light.  Writing helps me understand people, ideas, beliefs, opportunities, choices, the good and the bad and all these things by putting them into words and trying to create a story out of them.  And then, someone actually tells you that you’ve written an interesting story, that you’re getting better at it and that helps no end to overcome the doubt.

 

And sometimes I’m brave enough to tell this inner editor to shut up and go away and let me do what I feel I have to do, write my stories, make sure that they are there in case someone would like to read them or hear about them or finds them interesting.  It does not always work. Oh no, and then I am so miserable, for days, sometimes weeks on end and I find all kinds of other things to do, and tell myself I haven’t got the time anyway, so why bother? 

 

But then, then I want to be a painter, who paints with words the things she sees and hears and feels and thinks about, and evoke the smells.  So I pick up my notebook again, my head spinning with that next chapter that I must now write.  Writing means you have to give yourself time, and it is when there does not seem to be the time that the words come to a stop, and self-doubt comes crashing in again. 

 

My inner editor sometimes tells me that no one in the world is going to be interested in what I have discovered in it;  I imagine that the rest of the world will think how banal and silly and badly written my stories are; that other people’s lives are always more fascinating, better expressed, more real, more exhilarating, and then I tell this editor to go away and let me be and I carry on regardless, however unsure and insecure I am.  So here I am at long last writing, something that I have tinkered with and around for the whole of my life, and only now do I have the courage to tell ignore this editor as I can do as I please, even if it’s only for me.  And if it is bad, so what?  Who says?

 

To overcome all this inner nagging and self-doubt I took the Creative Writing course last year and have learned so much and gained so much in self-confidence.  I am no longer worried about letting people know that I write and that it is a passion.     

These blogs also help no end!

 

 

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Responses

  1. Yes! I loved this part:

    “Then I think but so what; it’s what I want to do, it gives me enormous satisfaction, it helps me think about relationships, about people and their interactions, and it helps me to see the rest of the world in a different light.”

    Now that’s a resounding slap in the face of doubt and self criticism! And it’s so true – the proof is in the enjoyment and satisfaction you (and your readers) derive from the words you put on paper.

    Every time you mention it, I’m more and more envious of your Creative Writing course. I find myself wanting to take that step, yet being fearful …blast that inner doubter! You give me courage, especially when you talk about what a positive experience your class was for you.

    Thanks for sharing this lovely piece with Write On Wednesday!

  2. A painter who paints with words. I do love that! I admire your being able to take that editor to task and telling her (it?) to let you be what you need to be! What a splendid idea to take the creative writing course!

  3. I love how you tell your editor to shut up. Thank you for sharing. Now I’m excited about finding a class. 🙂

  4. Self-criticism is right, too much of it is wrong. Turning writing subjects in your head will only lead to nothing, to a blank situation where nothing comes from. To find the just mid-way is what the writer must always seek. And yes, the writer should forget the potential readers, focussing their attention on what she/he writes not on how what she/he writes is going to be received.

    And this opinion of mine not only applies to literature, it does to every activity.

  5. Well done to have banished them all, what do they know?? I agree wholeheartedly with your thoughts on your reasons for writing. Yes it ‘s cathartic, therapeutic and a whole lot more. Good on you, don’t stop now you’ve got the hang of it 😉

  6. Becca: just go for it!
    Jeannie: and I might follow up with another one, still pondering…..
    Tammy: yes, I’ve definitely enjoyed going through with it.
    Jose: it’s always finding that balance, isn’t it? So tricky sometimes….
    Redness: thank you!

  7. I’m not a writer but enjoyed Anne Enright’s piece on self-doubt in The Guardian today. If you read it here,
    I’m sure it will bring a smile to your face.

  8. I’m not a writer but enjoyed Anne Enright’s piece on self-doubt in The Guardian today. If you read it here,
    I’m sure it will bring a smile to your face.

  9. a devoted reader: I love this piece, thank you for drawing my attention to it! It is spot on.


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