Start Your Week Off Write: How To Battle Self-Doubt and Win


image courtesy David Ball, Creative Commons

I read a blog post in October and it’s been knocking around my head ever since. Chris Guillebeau from The Art of Non-Conformity talked about whether qualifications are important for what you want to do with your life and it connected with me.

Go read “Qualifications” by Chris Guillebeau

I think a lot about my qualifications for being a writer. You know, that conversation in your head that starts “Who do you think you are, trying to… ?” Fill in the blank with whatever you are moving towards in a positive way, whether it’s a career, education, healthy relationships, changing the world. Self-doubt is a nemesis for many people, no matter their vocation or level in life. Self-doubt can whisper above the roar of accomplishment and applause.

I think you have to talk back to your self-doubt, talk it back into that dark corner of the room where it waits until it spots a vulnerable moment. My self-doubt is a little sister to Perfectionist Me (meet Perfectionist Me here and here). She responds well to lists. So I let her think she has the upper hand with a list.

Why I am not qualified to be a writer:

  • I do not have a degree in creative writing, English, Journalism, or ANYTHING.
  • I have no job experience in anything that resembles professional writing.
  • I’m on the backside of the ‘building a career’ age curve.
  • I am not a great philosopher, leader, or visionary who has something to say that will change society.
  • I don’t have expertise or celebrity that “sell” me and my product (writing) to people.

Self-doubt is rubbing her hands with glee, she thinks discouragement and stagnation are not far behind. Then I give her the OTHER list:

Why I am qualified to be a writer:

  • I’ve had this feeling, not necessarily a dream, more like a gnawing suspicion since childhood that this is what I should be doing, even when I ignored it or talked myself out of it, it never went away.
  • I can and am doing the work it takes to learn to be the best writer I am capable of being.
  • I have the will to keep going even when it’s not glamorous or easy and there is no money or prestige involved.
  • I have something to say that may change the way one person thinks.
  • I’ve been created for a unique plan and purpose.
  • My heart beats faster when I write.

The mind-clouding monster of self-doubt shrinks back in the dark corner where it belongs. I am victorious until our next battle. There WILL be a next battle. We will perform this ritual again, but each time it’s a little bit easier. And in the meantime, I write.

Want some inspiration for banishing self-doubt? Read “What Makes You Qualified?” over at A Squirrel Amongst Lions

Question: Do you have any battle strategies against self-doubt?

10 thoughts on “Start Your Week Off Write: How To Battle Self-Doubt and Win

  1. Whenever I’m writing and get that niggling little voice in my head saying, “Wow, this is a stupid idea for a story/article. Who would would want to buy this crap?”, I just say back to it, “Maybe, but I’m interested in seeing where it goes. It might not be much now, but I could turn into something big later on, so shut up and go back into your hole.”

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    • Spotting that voice and already knowing what you’re going to say to it is half the battle, IMO. That is a great strategy: maybe it will be crap, but let’s explore first. Thanks so much for stopping by, dante688!

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    • I think it’s healthy to examine whether your work can be better, but we creative types tend to get out of balance and try to beat ourselves up over our lack of ‘perfect’ far too often. I think it’s a rare writer that says ‘This is all great – everyone will love me!’ Those types may also have some character issues as well. 🙂 My goal is to shoot for a happy medium and I might be okay. 😉 Thanks for the comment, Jackie.

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  2. That nasty voice is Resistance – part ego, part force of the Universe. You have to learn to recognize it and the various ways it can crop up (via writer’s block, perpetually getting distracted with new stories, etc) and find ways to battle it.

    My favorite is Stephen Pressfield’s The War of Art, found here: http://www.amazon.com/War-Art-Through-Creative-Battles/dp/0446691437/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1323708498&sr=8-3

    Amazing book.

    I deal with this voice on a daily basis. It’s been fairly active this week in trashing my first book, LOL. But I’m ignoring it.

    Thanks for posting this. 🙂

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    • Yes, Resistance, we resist you! I have this written on a Post-It (what else!) on my desk next to my Procrastinating Pixie doll and Crappy Excuse Troll fuzzy:

      Distraction is Resistance
      Resistance is Futile
      Focus
      I should listen to my Post-Its more often. 😉

      Thanks for the Pressfield link. I need to read that one. I read ‘Do the Work’ and it was awesome.

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  3. Great post. I needed this! When my perfectionist fairy starts flying a round or I meet with resistence I visualize a blank slate. Sometimes I close my eyes. I guess you could say I make the negative disappear. When the thought or resistence is gone, I go back to what I was doing. It sounds so dumb but it usually works.
    For times when I really have the creative blues to author Heather Sellers books, Page by Page and Chapter After Chapter. Part craft, part creativity and part inspiration. Love them! I’ll have to check out the Pressfield books. Thanks Kristen!

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  4. I battle self-doubt constantly too! I just accept it as part of being a writer 🙂 I do find that it ebbs and flows depending on how I’m feeling, how I think my writing is going, and how many rejections I got that week. I can tell you that having a degree in literature doesn’t make me feel any more qualified to write – I think the only thing that might is if I were Margaret Atwood or J.K. Rowling’s daughter 😉

    Happy writing!

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  5. Pingback: Start Your Week Off Write: Book Review – You Are A Writer (So Start Acting Like One) by Jeff Goins | kristin nador writes anywhere

  6. Pingback: Start Your Week Off Write: On Writing Conferences, Gnats, and Conquering Your Fears | kristin nador writes anywhere

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