Outrunning the Enemy: Self-Doubt
I can’t believe I’m doing this! I NEVER let people read what I’ve written. Nine times out of ten I don’t read what I’ve written. But when Rochelle put out the call for guest bloggers, I couldn’t resist! What a great opportunity to break out of my comfort zone, and finally allow other people to read my work. Plus, if this blows, Rochelle won’t post it :)
This is my first year participating in NaNoWriMo, although I did sign up in 2015. Last year I signed up with every intention of writing an amazing novel, being published, and living happily ever after. Obviously, that didn’t happen. But what did happen was my desire to finally achieve my dream of writing a book became a necessity, and not just a fantasy.
One of the hardest parts of participating in NaNoWriMo is not (surprisingly) reaching the goal of 50k words, but the self doubt. Every day I delete WAY more words than I commit to my novel. I read, then reread every sentence. I second guess myself, my motive, my main character, everything. And even though I know my work will never be read by anyone other than myself, the very thought that someone might accidentally get ahold of it makes me physically sick. I can’t stand the thought of someone reading my work and hating it. What if they think I’m stupid? What if they don’t get the jokes? What if they think I am pretentious for even thinking I could possibly write a novel?
Just two days into NaNoWriMo, I talked myself out of it. I couldn’t do it. There’s no way I could possibly be good enough to join the ranks of writers like Erin Morgenstern, Rainbow Rowell, and Marissa Meyer. I can’t even let people read my work!!
So I went to the library and checked out a book guaranteed to make me feel better. The Gunslinger by Stephen King. It may sound like a weird choice, but if you ever feel like you're having a bad day, just think about Roland Deschain. His entire LIFE sucked. And while I don’t usually read a book’s forward, this time I did.
A friend of mine told me about a book King wrote about writing. He told me how it wasn’t just a ‘how to’ but a genuinely great book. So I went ahead and read the forward. It started out normal, King talking about the journey of writing The Dark Tower, and all the bumps and missteps he had along the way.
About halfway through, King made a statement that slapped me upside the head and changed my thinking in an instant. “'...my method of attack has always been to plunge in and go as fast as I can, keeping the edge of my narrative blade as sharp as possible by constant use, and trying to outrun the novelist's most insidious enemy, which is doubt.”
Holy hell, Stephen King doubted himself! STEPHEN KING ONCE EXPERIENCED DOUBT!
All of a sudden, I understood. It’s ok to doubt yourself, it’s ok to worry that you might be writing crap. But it is NOT ok to quit. You have to push through the crap, through the doubt, to reach the story inside you. The story you NEED to tell, even if you only tell it to yourself.
And yeah, I know that sounds super corny, and cheesy, and ridiculous. But it’s the God’s honest truth. And yeah, I still doubt my story, my talent, even my ability to reach 50k by November 30th. But that won’t stop me from trying. And if I don’t make it this year, I’ll be back next year, with a vengeance.
So, before I end this incredibly well written blog post (snicker) I will leave you with a bit of encouragement. You can do this! You got this! You rock! If you need a buddy, find me on NaNoWriMo as mizphill. And, if that doesn’t do it for you, here are some awesome quotes from King himself.