Wednesday, April 13, 2011
Defeating the Inner Naysayer
It wasn't that there were things that needed to be done, there are always things that need to be done, I was scared, terrified of letting others see the faults in my writing which translated to faults with me. If I write anything, except in the most private journal complete with heart-shaped lock and bejeweled key to keep out all prying eyes, then I was writing not just for myself, but ultimately for viewing by others. The moment before pressing the "Send" button or hitting "Publish Post" my heart would race and I would consider pulling back to hole up into the infinite loop of revision where nothing ever gets done. (See my earlier post here on writing a first novel or Paul's excellent piece on first drafts here).
Looking back, if Junior High taught me anything, it was the self-doubt and fear of having my faults pointed out and now, twenty plus years later, I'm opening myself up to further scrutiny. How do I push past the fear and manage to get anything down on a page? It's difficult, don't get me wrong, but at the same time I love writing, it gives me joy, it's part of my life and who I am. Why would I ever let something so ridiculous as fear of rejection prevent me from doing that which makes me happy?
So how do I get past the you can't write, you suck, why bother periods? Stubbornness definitely has something to do with it, but mostly I remember how fulfilling art is to my life, and good or bad I am committed to that which makes me happy. I also know that to do this I need to be professional in my approach and to work at it every day in all manner of formats. I make time for my writing (see an earlier post about that here), it is a priority. I intentionally do not allow myself the out of being too tired at night to write or too busy to find the time. Also, if I am to be professional about my art, I need to get it out in public for everyone to see. If I continue to be meek, little Don McMillan, then there really is no point in my efforts and I might as well go back to playing video games and watching sitcoms.
Terry Moore (I mention his panel at Donist World). During the hour talk, he stated, "Don't wait, start now and grow up in public." This was a powerful message on both doubting yourself and the resulting procrastination that comes from fear. You have to get your work out there, even if you do not feel you are ready (I will always fight this feeling), you need to learn from both constructive criticism and from your errors. Mr. Moore also stated "Inside me is a steel tower that really believes I can do it," and although I am nowhere near that degree of confidence in my work, my goal is to someday reach that point.
Fear and doubt have been part of my make-up for twenty-six years; I have been waging war on that negativity for the past two. Changing old habits takes time, but I make sure I am always moving forward on projects and that I always have ideas tucked away for later use. More importantly, I now go against my shy, meek nature and post my writing to my writing groups, to the blog or to the Comics Experience Workshop forums to be judged and critiqued. If response comes back negative from sources that I trust, then I have some work to do. If I receive applause to what I have written...well, there is probably still some work to do, but little can replace the feeling of joy from others liking my stories--even if they are about mummies and maidens. But in order to receive any feedback, I have to conquer my fear and doubt, get my work out there, and grow up in public. If I never get past my self-constructed blockades, then my writing is little more than a "Dear Diary" entry, and what fun is there in that?
I would love to hear how you deal with your own self-created roadblocks, or if you are one of those rare individuals who has always been able to move past the fear and doubt let me know about that too.
Posted by Don McMillan at 12:53 PM