Crushing Self Doubt

Oh, hey there. Forgive my consistent inconsistency with this thing. But there is a legit reason as to why I’ve been away. And since it directly ties in with my entry into the Positive Writer’s Writers Crushing Doubt contest, I thought it was the best way to bring my blog- and my confidence- back from the dead.

This past month or so has been trying for me. Why? I’ve spent all this time trapped in that oh-so-dreadful state of mind that befalls even the best of us: extreme self-doubt. I’m not talking about the kind that results from a scene you have been debating on eliminating and trying to convince yourself why you should keep it. This is the kind that encompasses your whole identity as a writer. Nagging questions start rearing their ugly little heads:

Is what I’m writing even any good?

Does anyone outside of the three or four people I know even want to read this?

Who the hell am I kidding? I’m not cut out for this.

I keep getting rejected. Maybe I’m not that good of a writer as I think I am.

Fraud.

Untalented hack.

Unoriginal.

Might as well quit.

I couldn’t tell you why I started feeling such incredible dissatisfaction. It doesn’t really matter what set it off. When you’re in the grip of self-doubt, everything looks bleak. For me, characters that jumped off the page now appear lifeless. Words lost their punch. Plot lines started looking worn and cliche. I couldn’t bring myself to look at anything I’ve written. It all looked the same to me: bad. Uninspired. Insipid. Worthless. I had seriously considered abandoning all attempts to revise or complete projects. I had hit a struggling writer’s rock bottom.

So what did I do? I cried. A lot. I tried to rediscover my passion through fanfic. When that didn’t pan out, I pushed all writing to the wayside. I turned to books and video games in the hope that something, anything, would break me out of this funk. I read and finished two awesome books, I advanced in the latest Batman game. But still I couldn’t seem to shake the darkness of self-doubt. This went on for weeks. And then, oddly enough, playing Arc the Lad: Twilight of the Spirits proved to be the catalyst. For those not in the know, it’s a JRPG released on the PS2 back in 2003. What was it about this old PS2 game, you may ask? The realization that it was chock-full of every bad trope you could imagine. It didn’t do anything new or earth shattering. It took what was familiar, gave it a new name and look, and ran with it. The end result? A mostly forgettable JRPG in an era that was replete with them. The only reason this particular title got any notice was because of its association with the Arc the Lad series.

I put the game controller down and took a long, hard look at my current project. New thoughts started coming to my mind:

You are better than you think.

This is not going to be just another manuscript condemned to someone’s slush pile.

You CAN do this.

You WILL do this.

You are a writer.

Embrace it.

Never quit.

And, just like that, the elusive spark to ignite my creativity was back. I’m ecstatic about getting back to work. The steps I’ve taken are small, but they are meaningful. And it’s all thanks to some JRPG nostalgia wanted me to revisit. So, thanks, Arc the Lad, for providing me with an example of what I don’t want to become. Thanks for being the splash of ice water I needed to free me from this most dreadful of emotions.

If you ever find yourself in the stranglehold of self-doubt, just remember, fellow writers: you ARE better than you think. You CAN do this. You’re NOT going to quit. And, most importantly, you’re not alone. You have legions cheering you on. I’m one of them. So crush that writer’s doubt and keep going.

 

 

 

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