Kicking Writing Doubt

You may have noticed that I have taken somewhat of a hiatus from my blog. I was working on my screenplay but have started truly doubting myself as a writer. I’ve heard that a lot of writers go through this, but my most recent slump had me doubting whether I should write at all. There are several reasons why writing doubt can creep up. For me, it is usually in the form of questions.

  1. Why do you think you’re so special?
  2. Are you actually writing something unique?
  3. Do you just want recognition?
  4. Do you really think you’re talented?

1. Why do you think you’re so special?

I don’t actually. I just know that I am a unique person, so I might say things in a way that will resonate with someone.

I came to the realization that God has given me writing as a way to work out the issues in my life. This takes off the pressure of being special because my writing is to heal myself. If I end up helping to heal others in the process, I am overjoyed.

I may not be special, but I must continue to use the tools that God has given me if only to work through my own problems.

2. Are you actually writing something unique?

What has been will be again,
    what has been done will be done again;
    there is nothing new under the sun.

Ecclesiasties 1:9

Solomon had it right. There is a reason why writing is formulaic, has rules, and alludes to other writing. It recycles the same ideas and thoughts throughout generations. What is so fascinating though is that you can hear the same message over and over again but have it only “hit” you when you read that message from a certain author.

Stephen King in On Writing talks about how your first writings should look like imitations of your favorite authors. That is how I first learned. Before creating my own writing style, I must admit that, my writing had a distinct Jane Austen, Douglas Adams, and C.S. Lewis combo flair. (Maybe that’s why my journalism teacher berated me for using English punctuation for quotes rather than American punctuation. It all makes sense now.)

I have found a unique voice by taking what I liked from several different writing styles and creating what is now my voice. The content that I write about may not be unique, but the way I write about it is.

3. Do you just want recognition?

This is the wrong way to look at writing. My writing is not measured in value by how many people like it, comment on it, or share it. There are so many authors who were not celebrated in their day but posthumously have become icons of literature, the classics. You may say “sour grapes” which may partly be true, but let me continue to answer the question.

Sometimes, yes. I write because I want to be seen as a good writer, but if I base whether I write or not on others’ approval, I will never write because there will always be something someone doesn’t quite like, disagrees with, or is even offended by. Seeking approval can freeze-up even the best of writers.

I can’t write about my opinions and expect for everyone to simply nod. In fact, I would prefer for people to engage with my ideas and have a real discussion.

So, of course I would like to be recognized as a good writer, but I must remind myself that lack of recognition does not mean lack of positive impact on others.

4. Do you really think you’re talented?

Yes, actually. I may not be talented in the way that another author is talented, but I work hard at my craft. I have received honest feedback that is encouraging and continue to submit my work to contests.

I think there is a difference between being naturally talented and having the grit to grow your talent. Having natural talent is great. It was nice to hear that I was a good writer from my 10th grade English teacher, but talent only got me so far. What has been considered great work for a 10th grader is not necessarily publishable.

Writing is hard work. Others can make it look easy, but we don’t know how many drafts or for how long they wrote before their current writing. I have learned that, in the screenwriting business, you generally write 2-3 learning scripts that will never be shown to anyone. It is a bit scary to do all that work and still not know if I will make it, but I have to at least try.

I will put in the necessary work. I write every day. It doesn’t matter what I am writing. My only rule is that I must write something. Yesterday, I wrote a lovely letter to my husband for our anniversary.

I am reminded of one of my songs on my morning motivation playlist:

You’re never gonna make it
You’re not good enough
There’s a million other people with the same stuff
You really think you’re different
Man, you must be kidding
Think your gonna hit it
But you just don’t get itIt’s impossible
It’s not probable
You’re irresponsible
Too many obstacles
You gotta stop it yo
You gotta take it slow
You can’t be a pro
Don’t waste your time no more

Who the f*** are you
To tell me what to do?
I don’t give a d*** if you say you disapprove
I’m gonna make my move
I’m gonna make it soon
And I’ll do it ’cause it’s what I wanna f***ing do’Cause all these opinions
And all these positions
They coming in millions
They blocking your vision
But no, you can’t listen
That s*** is all fiction
‘Cause you hold the power as long as your driven

Fight Back by NEFFEX

So, how do I kick writing doubt out the door to sit by its brother writer’s block? I continue to write. Even if writing is just writing out my problems with writing, it is still writing. I am still moving forward. One of my favorite quotes is:

“Sometimes you have to go on when you don’t feel like it, and sometimes you’re doing good work when it feels like all you’re managing is to shovel s*** from a sitting position.”

Stephen King, On Writing

I hope you found this encouraging. Keep writing!

When have you found it difficult to continue doing something you love? How did you overcome it? If you haven’t overcome it, how can I pray for you?

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