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Saturday, October 20, 2012

Self-Doubt Remedies

Writer Jon Bard at the blog Write to Done: Unmissable Articles on Writing has a helpful article called "5 Ways for Writers to Blast Through Self-Doubt."

Now, in general I think self-doubt is inherent to writing, and maybe even important to it. I'm not sure I want to get rid of my self-doubt, but I surely want to stop suffering from my self-doubt. Plus this article has a number in its title, and I'm a sucker for numbers in anything. So I had a look and am glad I did.

Here are Bard's main points:

1) Differentiate between being a writer and an author. Writers write to write; authors write to be read. Bard explains how understanding and identifying with this distinction can help you.

2) Bard gives (and cites other sources) for learning to ignore the haters.  He quotes Colin Powell: “Trying to get everyone to like you is a sign of mediocrity.” And Bard emphasizes that writers should focus on how many people really "get" their work, not how many don't.

3) Remember that other writers are more concerned with their work than yours, and that their criticisms/attitudes/lack of interest may reflect that.

4) I'm just going to quote Bard's title for his fourth point: "Attain non-attachment by being prolific." Wow. This is for me. Don't get too attached to one piece of work so that it sucks up all your energy and creativity and you get so invested in it that you can't move on, can't show people for fear of having everything important to you blown sky high, etc. Write more, be attached less.

5) Don't invest entirely in one genre, or your self-identity will get stuck in that. This is more of the non-attachment from part 4, but it's too sophisticated for me. I'm not sure I'm ready for it. But Bard suggests thinking of yourself as a "writer" not a certain kind of writer (as in a poet, but I don't consider myself a poet either, but a person who writes poems. Not exclusively but almost.....I must think about this.....)

Well, read the whole article. It's short and punchy and does a better job explicating its points than I have. And it may help you with self-doubt, if you have any (ha ha, just doubting you have self-doubt for the fun of it. Remember W. S. Merwin's poem about John Berryman's advice to him, quoted in part below:)

I asked how can you ever be sure
that what you write is really
any good at all and he said you can't

you can't you can never be sure
you die without knowing
whether anything you wrote was any good
if you have to be sure don't write

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