Slaying the Self-Doubt Demon
"And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt." ~Sylvia Plath
Amen, Sylvia. Self-doubt's one heck of a demon, one so powerful, it can prevent us from even trying. It's the voice that whispers, "Who do you think you're kidding?," the one that hisses that your successes were all due to dumb luck, that your incompetence will be discovered any minute. It's the one that tells me, with each project I'm writing, that this book (the one I began with such enthusiam) will be the failure that will finally take me down.
Self-doubt is often full of crap, but like a lot of really accomplished abusers, it weaves in just enough strands of truth to make it impossible to ignore complete. If you can tease out the truth part, you can use it to effectively edit or make course corrections. But this only works if you can keep the b.s. part at bay.
How do I manage it? First of all, I've learned to recognize the nattering as my subconscious's last defense against hard work. (My subconscious is such a slacker!) I've also learned that if I push through in spite of the temporary pain, I end up with something worthwhile and rewarding. So the experience, the habit, of forcing myself to finish helps. It helps, too, to talk my way through the block with other creative types. And finally, I've found Steven Pressfield's amazing little book, The War of Art, to be one of the best allies a writer can have in this struggle. If you haven't yet bought it, it could save your creative life...
And help you slay a demon along the way.