Stuck in the Quagmire of Doubt

A.K.A ‘Help, I can’t do this!’

A few weeks ago (or maybe it was months, who can even tell anymore) I was flying pretty high. I’d finished the first draft of my WiP, I’d been keeping myself busy and motivated with all the wonderful Jericho Writer’s Festival of Writing webinars, and I was feeling ready to take on the world. Fast forward to now, and things are looking a bit different. I’ve done very little with my WiP since writing ‘The End’ (and yes I really did write it). I’ve fallen so far behind with the festival webinars that I’m worried I’ll never catch up before they go off line, and generally I feel pretty defeated by the world.

In short I am spiralling badly. Doubt has invaded my mind, and is doing a damn fine job of making me believe I am not good enough, and will never get to where I want to be. Sometimes these little spikes of doubt pop up and I nimbly evade them, and laugh as they pass me by.

Not right not. Right now, the doubt is winning. Every time I think I can see past it, and feel ready to move forward, something else pops up and stops me. I’m not much of a sports person, but I imagine this is how rugby players (or Football players if you’re in the US) must feel. You’ve got the ball, you can see the goal line, but you simply cannot get past those damn blockers. I have to give them credit, they are good at what they do. Of course they are, because unlike in rugby/football, these blockers aren’t external players, they are me, my mind, my anxieties. No wonder these imaginary blockers know how to preempt my every move and block my efforts to get past them. The question is, why do I let them get away with it? Especially when I know full well that it’s my own brain doing all the damage.

Written out like that I can see the non-nonsensical nature of my doubt. It’s not even real, and yet I’m giving it so much power, time, and mental energy. No wonder I’m so tired all the time. I’m spending all my time fighting with myself, instead of just doing something practical. I know from experience that something practical wouldn’t even have to be something big. It could be as simple as picking up my WiP and looking at it. It seems so simple. But every time I’ve imagined doing that very easy task, doubt has popped right up and told me that it’s too scary. I might get hurt.

Perhaps it’s trying to prevent me from many, many paper cuts. In truth the doubt is probably warning me that I might pick up my WiP and hate it. That I might discover that all the hard work I’ve put in so far has been for nothing. That I really am not good enough to become an author.

The stupid thing, I realise now (and I mean right now, as I write this sentence) is that by listening to the doubt I am making the very thing I fear become a reality. All that hard work would be for nothing if I never pick up the manuscript again and just leave it in a drawer. And I am definitely not good enough to become an author if I cannot screw up enough courage to edit the silly thing. Oh, the irony. I can almost hear my doubt laughing at me – ‘haha, she fell for it, she’s so stupid and I win!’

But you know what. I’m not going to let that doubt win. I see through its illusions. There’s a part of me that feels foolish for ever listening to it in the first place. I’ve always known it’s not real, that it has no real power. But, you know what, I’m choosing not to be too hard on myself with this. If I were the hero in a story, this would be my ‘all is lost’ beat, where I feel utterly defeated, only to rise up even stronger in the next few chapters. And that’s the story of life isn’t it I suppose. Lots of ups and downs, dark points and bright days. I’m starting to feel myself rising to the challenge, and I know that I will beat down the doubt this time around. I also know, though, that doubt is just as tenacious as I am, and it will be back. Next time it rears its ugly little head I might beat it into submission with one blow, or, just like I have recently, I might have to accept its hold over me and retreat, recoup, and do some training before I realise that I am strong enough to fight it, because I am, and if you’re reading this and feel the clutch of doubt on your shoulders, so are you. I promise. And if you ever need anyone to remind you that you are stronger than your doubts, just hit me up on Twitter and I’ll happily tell your doubt where to go!

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