I’ve been away for a bit, dealing with a tiresome weed. Okay, it’s beea longer bit. But I’ve learned a thing, or two, or three about writers’ weeds.
I told myself, I needed some time to process my writing journey. I felt like creativity had consumed me; it burned at a feverish pace as I wrote my first novel during my MFA program. Unfortunately, after I released the manuscript to my agent, I smoldered away into a pile of Creative Ash. Worse, I refused to acknowledge it. I pretended all was well. I plunged into another novel. After all, I was a writer. I had an MFA in writing. I had an written novel. I had an agent.
But quiet thoughts plagued me: What if nobody wants my book? What if it doesn’t get published? What if I can’t write another book?
The weed that grows in every writer’s heart and mind.
I worked on another project humoring myself that I was writing. But the passion of the first book, didn’t return. My heart wasn’t in it.
Time. Rest. Abstinence. Those were my tools to battle self-doubt.
The black truth is that these three became my crutches.
Here are the three most import things I learned during the time I took to processmy writing journey:
- A writer’s security must be linked to self-validation.
When we send our stories out into the world, they grows wings. They fly away beyond our reach. We need to let them go. Nice, beautiful and inspirational words.
My reality: I needed validation from my first book to move on to the other. Time, rest, and abstinence didn’t help me. Instead, I needed to look within myself. So I reread my novel.
My conclusion: It was good. Better than good. I still loved the story. I had to let it go.
My action: I transferred the file onto a separate hard disk and stored it away. Then I deleted it off my laptop. Done. Finished.
- A writer is only as good as their next book.
The path to publishing does not (let me stress the NOT) make us good writers. Having an agent, an editor or even a published book doesn’t define us, nor our craft skills. Consider them the side-effects of writing, not the validation. Some writers may experience these side-effects. Others may not. The journey of a writer should be defined by their growth as story-teller. The next story, and the next. Telling the stories, is a writer’s creative disease. Abstinence doesn’t make it better. It weakens our skills and erodes the craft. I needed another story that I believed in as much as my first. I could only find that by doing what writers do best. Telling a story from my heart and not my brain.
- Time spent with fellow writers. Resting with books. More and more writing.These three are my tools now. Without them, I wither and my story-telling falls apart.
And my self-doubts? Ah…those rascals’ roots are still imbedded in my writing “psyche.” They probably will never be eradicated. But then, that’s the nature of weeds. Constant maintenance is key. Eradication with dangerous pesticides can destroy the weed, but also all vegetations. We don’t want to do that!!!
How do you battle self-doubt? How do you keep on writing?