Maybe Self-Doubt isn’t Bad

Maybe Self-Doubt isn't Bad
Image provided by Bob Blakley
https://www.flickr.com/photos/blakley/

As of late, I’ve been coming across hoards of articles about how we should feel about ourselves. Writers are telling me in their blog posts about how to somehow feel marvelous when I’m writing, no matter where I am in my WiP, no matter what obstacles I’m facing. Feel-good web sites are giving me advice about how to prepare to feel terrific for the entire day. Some of them read like instructions to put a model together.

I’m not believing a word I’m reading. How can I? Writing is a passion for me. This doesn’t mean I’m going to feel spectacular whenever I sit at the keyboard though. For me, passion means I’d do whatever it takes to be in the process of a WiP, and to hell with how it may be feeling at the time. There are many days when it’s grueling. I’m having to puck each sentence out of my noggin and place it on the page next to the last period, all the while wishing the ideas would flow. And expecting to be happy for the entire day is ludicrous. Especially since I’m a writer with many issues. Life is full of ups and downs. To force myself not to experience all of it is making my life less than what it can be. I just can’t imagine myself going to the dentist with a beaming smile on my face.

One of my “big” feelings is self-doubt. I’m usually in a mode of questioning myself about something. With some, it’s fear that runs them ragged. Others live days in total guilt mode over something they really didn’t have much choice in. Mine is self-doubt.

Self-doubt isn’t reserved just for those of us who write. However, as a group, I’d say we’re the most vocal about this so-called flaw. You may not want to believe it, but executives of such companies like Sony, Microsoft, General Mills, and others have this same lack of confidence and esteem going on inside them. They just don’t tell anyone. Often they aren’t even telling their significant others, whoever they may be. I, as a writer, can feel this thing in me every times I put my fingers on the keyboard. “Should I say it this way?” “Should I say it at all?” “What if I changed things around?” “Would that work or is it just as hideous as it was the other way?”

About a week ago I was thinking about this flaw in me. It came to mind while I was reworking a character profile. I had added in arrogance, narcissism, and hotheadedness for this character’s traits, but I still needed to come up with why she was that way. Any therapist is likely to tell me that the person doesn’t see herself as being terrific, engaging, and righteous. That all those rotten qualities are a facade for what she really feels inside. Her not facing what she feels is what’s wrong with her. Instead, she acts out to avoid the underlying feeling[s].

What if I faced my self-doubt about my capabilities as a writer? What would I find? I’d discover what I already know about me. I’m atrocious with spelling and vocabulary. So much so that I will not write a single word without a dictionary and thesaurus on hand. Often I don’t word sentences, and sometimes whole paragraphs, in the right order. I do a kind of cart-before-the-horse thing in a lot of cases. My attempts to be eloquent are crude. I want my writing to be lyrical, but I know the instant I read it, it’s anything but impassioned. I have a lot to doubt. I, often, wonder why I bother to try to do something in the craft at all.

Yet, it’s these marrings in my skills that make me try to write every day. They’re imperfections I can try to alleviate, if not get rid of all together–at some point in the far future–maybe. Some I’ll never ever rid myself of, and I’ll just have to come to terms with those facts and trudge forward dragging them behind me.

The doubt I wrestle with is what makes me ask the questions that, once dealt with, will improve the process in my projects. Without this uncertainty snaking up, down, and around, entwining with the story that’s in my head, my WiP would, most certainly, end up flat, boring, and completely repulsive.

Of course, I don’t want it to take over my passion. Some of what I write is okay. Sure, not spectacular, maybe not even good, but passable. I dutifully give myself a kudo–not two, just one.

A blogging friend of mine has told me she likes my “no frills” writing. Well, that isn’t anything like lyrical, is it? So be it. I do like the thought of being one of those people who is up front, straight forward, down to earth. The “no frills” thing kind goes along with that. Still, the  apprehension is there, haunting me to do better. Kind words are fine, but what is in me still prevails.

Eventually, I’ll have to push this feeling into a closet somewhere so that I can get a real sense of how I’m doing from others–in particular, an editor, or even a beta reader. Nevertheless, this emotion does have purpose for me.

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Do you think of self-doubt as way to insure that you strive to be better? Or does it hang you up?

“A modern philosopher who has never once suspected himself of being a charlatan must be such a shallow mind that his work is probably not worth reading.” ― Leszek Kołakowski, Metaphysical Horror

 

What’s With My Laptop?!

What's With My Laptop?!

Two weeks ago I stated I was going to go beyond this corner in what I call “the computer room” where my ugly orange pressboard desk and my comfortable padded chair sits. I didn’t think it would be this hard to think of other things to write about. It’s clear that I’m obsessed with writing.

Back in July, my husband bought me a laptop saying it was my birthday present, which, at the time, was two months away. We went to Walmart thinking I could get one relatively cheap there.

There it sat, first in the line of many others, an Acer. The first computer I ever bought was an Acer, way back in 1996. At the time, I wasn’t online. I guess I could have been but I was oblivious to the idea. Chances are it would have been quite a hassle back then anyway. Anyway, I thought it was duly appropriate that my first laptop would also be an Acer. Walmart isn’t what it’s cracked up to be though. It didn’t have any in stock and they wouldn’t let me take the one on display. They didn’t even give me a rain check. Walmart sucks.

We went to Staples. All of their laptops were actually tablets with the keyboard you can attach. I wanted a laptop. Besides, their tablets are way out of my price range. Can you imagine paying over $800 for something that wasn’t really what you wanted anyway? I couldn’t.

I ended up calling Dell. I should have done this in the first place because my current PC is a Dell. By buying another device from them, I got a few bonuses in services. I was an idiot for wasting time at Walmart and Staples.

It took me a while to figure out how to get the wireless to work. I still am having problems syncing it with my PC. Again, it’s my own fault. I changed how verification is done before I thought it all the way through. Trying to find a time when I’m extremely calm and alert so I can get this done has been impossible lately. The verification comes by way of a phone call giving me a random four-digit number. This wouldn’t be hard at all if I had two hands to use or I didn’t have short-term memory loss. Even getting rid of one of the assets and I could still handle it, no problem–I think. As it is though, I must be at my very best mentally. However, there’s no such thing these days. Therefore, I can’t sync my two devices. In addition, I think I’m going to have to call Dell anyway on this because I can’t see all files at DropBox when on my laptop. I dread the thought. Me and virtual help get rather confusing, both for me and the technician on the other end.

I’m still stuck in my little corner when I write on my WiP. I keep on wondering if this is a good thing or a bad thing. Would I be more inclined to write more if I could go outside on the carport to write? Out there I know I’d have old Jake, our oldest “outdoor” cat keeping me company. There’s a possibility that I’d probably have Wilma, Ashes, and Ciders there too. In my little corner, I have Miya, our oldest “indoor” cat snoozing away on the floor just in reason for a love pat every once in a while.

Where would I get the most inspired writing done?

To tell the truth, I think I might be better staying where I am. I don’t have to move anything to get set up. My hot coffee and bottled water are just a room away. My books on writing sit in a weaved bin on my ugly desk where I can reach them with ease. I just need to get husband moving on helping me make my corner a more desirable place to be.

This doesn’t mean my laptop was a dumb buy. I do use it. There are times when husband is home and yet I want to be absolutely certain I’m completely alone while I write. This is usually when I’m adding to my private journal. I go to the back bedroom where my laptop sits under the bed. I pull it out and place it on a stadium blanket that’s been folded several times. I stuff pillows behind my back while sitting on the bed half Indian-style, and hammer at the keys.

Maybe my hassles are because I’m not thinking outside the box.

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

 

The Online Amenities

The Online Amenities
Image provided by Michael D Beckwith
https://www.flickr.com/photos/118118485@N05/

On August 29th, Today’s Author posted a piece asking what are the online resources their readers use in their writing. This is one of the most glorious aspects of the technical age, in my opinion. Money and time are cost to the bone for a writer because of the availability of resources now.

We have talked in the past about important tools for writers such as software or specific kinds of notebooks and pens. Today we’d like to hear what kinds of online resources and tools you find helpful to your writing. Are there specific websites you use for research? Online tools to inspire you to write? What do you find invaluable on the internet when you look at your writing life? [Today’s Author]

As little as twenty years ago, many writers had shelves upon shelves of books in their wring space just for resources and references they’d need at a moment’s notice during their writing sessions. I think this was one of the things that stopped me from taking up writing as a serious venture. I didn’t know where the book fairs were so I could put up the needed knowledge at a lower cost. I’d need to win the lotto to afford what I need for my own private library.

Nowadays, all I have to do is click on my little Firefox, and I zoom to the Internet for the information I need.

Dictionary: Remember that big bulky book you could usually find on a  pedestal at the library? Now I just go to one of the dictionary sites to find out if I’ve spelled a word right or if it’s even the word I thought it was. Sure, many of the word process programs have this built in, but the definitions are often lacking–a lot.

Thesaurus: I could not even attempt to write without this resource. The short-term memory loss I have would do me in before I even got started. Without the thesaurus, I write like the fifth grader–maybe. The paperback of this resource is adequate and affordable. However, because of my right arm and hand not working, trying to keep that small book open and type or write the possible words to use is futile. Again, most word processing programs have this feature too, but the list of synonyms is rather short–puny actually.

Encyclopedia: When I was a kid, some parents bought the Encyclopaedia Britannica for their children’s education. It was a hefty price to pay but it usually included updates to the volumes as information was obtained or changed. Being a fireman’s daughter, this wasn’t an option for me. The closest branch library to my house was eight city blocks away. I’d hoof the hill to it when I had to and when weather would permit. It was either that or wait until I could get to the library at school. Now I just have to decide which encyclopedia I want to use and click to the site.

Editing: I haven’t used this tool yet but I know I will eventually. This, of course, is just for grammar and in-depth spelling. I’m a member at Grammerly.

Writing Groups: I live in a small town in the Tennessee mountains. The closest local writing group I’ve found is in Nashville, two hours away. Someone suggested I start my own here in Crossville. I have yet to find any writers here. I wonder sometime about who is writing the articles in the Crossville Chronicle. Are they writers who don’t feel a need for comradery? And I can’t find them in the white pages. Where do they live? Anyway, because of this dilemma, I belong to two online writing groups. It isn’t as helpful as I was hoping for, but a little is better than none, right?

Blogs: The blogs of writers is one of my main sources of inspiration, motivation, and lessons in the skills of the craft. I probably would have given up long ago on any serious writing without these sites.

Email: I have a couple of close writing friends I email every once in a while. I know I should write letters to them more often, but time slips away from me so quickly sometimes I even forget what day it is. They’re a little farther along on their writing journey than I am. I rely heavily on them for support and hope I’m giving enough to them.

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According to the post at Today’s Author, I should specify certain sites. I only named one. Preference can differ too much and I’m sure the sites I frequent are so diverse from other writers even though they’re within the same categories. Each to their own.😛

Do you have other types sites that are useful? Please share in the comment section.

“The difference between the almost right word and the right word is really a large matter. ’tis the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.” ― Mark Twain, The Wit and Wisdom of Mark Twain

 

Nine Month Kickoff

nine-month-kickoff

Last Tuesday I started thinking about how I was going to get back on the train of the blogosphere after being somewhat MIA [missing in act] for six weeks. As an “unpublished” writer, I don’t feel qualified to give advice to any other writer, so posts stressing how to do anything concerning the craft is pure ludicrousness.

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Before I get into that more, I was thinking some of you may be curious as to what I did during my semi-sabbatical.

Those of you who have been faithfully reading my blog know I took the time off to concentrate on my WiP. I didn’t goof off, giving hours every day to my unfinished manuscript. Still, I didn’t get as far along as I was hoping. 13,728 words so far. I can’t stop myself from looking for better words in the thesaurus. What’s with this obsession? I rationally know this is the first draft, yet I feel compelled to find the exact words I want. Yes, I also looked up spelling too but there are times when I’m so far off the mark that if I don’t correct it, I’ll never have a clue as to what I was trying to spell when looking at it later. Correcting the spelling cannot wait until the rewrite in my case.

I have learned to go a little deeper with my characters though. I had to allow myself to get off the beaten track in the story to show who my characters are. The first rewrite is probably going to be enormous, but then again, maybe not.

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Okay, back to the original thought of this piece.

The idea of telling you about my writing life has appealed to me. Yes, I’ve been doing something of that all along. However, what if I go beyond this little corner where I have my padded chair and my PC in front of me? Maybe explore what it feels like to see the other parts of my life from the perception of the writer in me?

Some parts are going to include my judgments–my opinions. This may not set well with others in the writing community who read my blog. Nevertheless, I am going to stand firm, and hope that I’m not too offensive. I’m hoping by making sure readers know that I accept criticism in the comments, they’ll tolerate my point of view. I’m hoping a learn something too.

Today is Thursday. I’m more or less settled on making my posting day every Thursday, either that or every Wednesday. So many bloggers post on the weekend. I get it. They have jobs, kids, appointments, and so on happened throughout the workweek. Of course, this means I have blog upon blog to read during the weekend. Answering comments on top of giving comments sound like too much because I want to do other things during my days as well. You see, I still want have some time to write in each day, and spend a little time away from this blasted screen that isn’t for housework. I’m not going to run myself ragged and ruin the fun of having a blog.

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What day would you like to see my post, Wednesday or Thursday? Additionally, is this idea of mine one you’d like to see in my blog?

“I have from the first felt sure that the writer, when he sits down to commence his novel, should do so, not because he has to tell a story, but because he has a story to tell. The novelist’s first novel will generally have sprung from the right cause.”
Anthony Trollope, Autobiography of Anthony Trollope

 

Describing the Doubt and Fear

Describing the Doubt and Fear
Image provided by Peter Nederlof
https://www.flickr.com/photos/peterned/

After reading Phoebe Quinn’s post at A Writing Path, I began to question how much effort I’m really putting into my writing. Her article wasn’t about effort, but somehow it triggered those types of thoughts in me. Do I give it my all?

Don’t get me wrong here. I’m not saying I’ve been expecting great achievement with little effort. To be truthful, I’d be wondering what the point is of writing at all if it didn’t require that intense concentration and passion that puts me in a time warp feeling as thought I’ve been in outer space when I come to.

I’m questioning how I keep on wanting to rush through some of the writing. When I was younger, I used to love to do descriptions. It could be a regular object like a teacup, a person walking down the street, or an entire setting like a park. It seemed to come to me naturally. Anymore though, I rush straight through those parts getting to action and the feelings of the characters.

Why am I in such a hurry? True, I am not young anymore. In fact, I’ve been deemed a senior for a while now. Even so, unless I find myself getting blown up, I don’t think I’ll be dying anytime soon. This means there’s plenty of time for me to cultivate splendid descriptions of the scenes as I go through them one by one.

And when did I lose that natural touch for writing descriptions? While sitting at my desk, I can see out a window by turning my head slightly to the left. It’s a view of the street I live on so even though some things don’t change often, other things do. I look out this window every time I need a moment to think. And my mind isn’t so full that I don’t see what is out there either. I notice the breeze blowing the leaves in the trees. I see Jake [one of the residential cats] lumber across the street. The sound of a car will make me glance out to see if it’s one of the neighbors. Now, why am I not putting any of this into my writing?

It got me wondering if I’ve gotten stuck on the mechanics of writing. Rationally, I know I can write my first draft any old way I want. However, emotionally, my obsession for perfection and my fear of never ever being good enough plays havoc with me, making me doubt the adverbs I put at the end of sentences, the spelling of words I know but invariably spell wrong, the number of sentences I start with a prepositional phrase. And the list is a long one.

Is there a way to turn off the doubts and fears, but still keep the emotions going full blast while I write? No, I’m not expecting an answer to materialize. Sometimes though, it’s sensible to put these types of questions out there to examine and ponder on.

“It was one of those cases where you approve the broad, general principle of an idea but can’t help being in a bit of a twitter at the prospect of putting it into practical effect. I explained this to Jeeves, and he said much the same thing had bothered Hamlet.” ― P.G. Wodehouse, Jeeves in the Morning