Every summer, we spend a week with my extended family on a beautiful lake. While the kids play and we soak up the sun (and lots of food and drink) we catch up on everything we’ve missed in each others’ lives. The first question that everyone is asked:
“So, how’s work?”
(Not that anyone wants to talk about work on vacation. But still, we ask. We’re polite like that.)
During this year’s vacation, I noticed something. No one asked me about my writing.
Don’t get me wrong, I know they care about me and my interests. But not once during the week did anyone ask me, “So, how is your writing going?” as though it was something to be taken seriously.
Why? (Stay with me…this isn’t a pity party, I promise.)
For years, I fought with my writing life, jamming it into the nooks and crannies of my busy daily life and getting mad at myself when I went days, weeks, or years without writing.
And because it wasn’t productive, because it wasn’t consistent, because it wasn’t what I knew it could be, I never talked about it. I kept my longing for a writing life under wraps because I was embarrassed at my failed attempts.
I have created this circumstance where the people in my life don’t take my writing life seriously. Why? Because I DIDN’T OWN IT.
Do you keep your writing a secret? Do you brush it off if someone asks you about it? Act like it’s nothing to be proud of?
Maybe your specific reasons are different than mine, but they come from the same core emotions: SELF-DOUBT and FEAR.
In a writing life as in all areas of a human life, we have to notice and manage our thoughts in order to create the consistent and sustainable habits we desire. And so it is.
Action Steps for Overcoming Self-Doubt
Step 1: Notice the thoughts you are thinking.
Self-doubt is the thorn in my paw in all areas of my life, and writing is no exception. If I am able to catch myself in while in its grip, I can hear the thoughts that create the feeling.
- Who do I think I am?
- I can’t.
- I’m not good enough.
Step 2: Breathe.
Just let the air clear. Let your mind be still. 30 seconds is enough if that’s all you’ve got. Breathe.
Step 3: Replace the thought with something neutral.
Why neutral? Because switching from a negative thought to a whole-heartedly positive one is Pollyanna’s game, and I’m far too skeptical for that. Try one of these, or make up your own:
- I am .
- It is possible that I can.
- I am writing.
Step 4: Set a small, easily attainable goal for the time you have in front of you.
And I mean small. Not: “I will finish this chapter.” Instead: “I will write three sentences.”
Step 5: Get to work.
The longer you wait, the faster and stronger those negative thoughts will return. Take their power by proving the neutral thoughts right.
Step 6: Consciously celebrate your accomplishment.
Once you reach your Step 4 goal, high-five yourself!
(If you struggle to reach and self-doubt creeps in, then back up. Start over with Step 1. This time, when you reach Step 4, make it a smaller goal. One sentence. One word. Something impossible to avoid. You can do it.)
Step 7: Wash, rinse, repeat!
Use these six steps over and over and over. Before you know it, you will have produced more than you ever thought possible.
Grab your free Self-Doubt? Write Anyway worksheet to work through these steps on your own and bring your creativity into the light.