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Saturday, January 18, 2014

Slaying The Doubt Monster

The Doubt Monster is a wicked ugly creature that frequently attacks writers. But there are safety in numbers, so let’s link shields and fight back, shall we? 

Here is what we’re up against. . .

HORRIFIC DOUBT #1:
I stink at this writing game, as evidenced by my lack of attracting a publisher.
Maybe I should just give up.

For awhile, especially at the beginning of your writing journey, you hope that this time, this manuscript, will be the lucky winner. Rejection after rejection pounds those high hopes into the ground, making you wonder if you should just quit.

What’s the silver bullet for this particular beastie? Perseverance. Immersing yourself in a new manuscript is a great way to beat back this doubt because you’ll be too busy thinking about plot twists and character development to consider giving up.

INSIDIOUS DOUBT #2:
Other writers get published, but not me.
Maybe my writing is stupid.

It doesn’t matter if you’re Stephen King or Nicholas Sparks. Writers are all an insecure bunch. Why? Because they pour their heart and soul into a story, revealing inner secrets they’d never say out loud. When that work gets rejected, it is personal. There’s just no way around it.

But there is a stake that can be driven through this ugly monster’s heart. It’s called sharpening your craft.

If you continue to learn and hone your writing skill, this particular doubt will simply turn into a lie. You can always choose to believe the lie if you like, but you won’t have to. Your writing won’t be stupid if you continue your writerly education by attending workshops, going to conferences, and reading craft books.

So go ahead and take that online course. Pick up a new how-to from Writers Digest. Attend a local writers group and glean some new writing tips. This is one monster you’ll have to slay with your own muscle and a little sweat.

LOW-BLOW DOUBT #3:
I keep writing, keep submitting, and keep getting rejected.
Maybe God wants me to be doing something else.

Honest truth? Maybe He does.

But maybe He doesn’t.

In a freakish sort of way, this doubt is actually good for you. It keeps you on your knees, seeking God’s will for how you manage the time He’s given you.

I don’t know if God wants you to be a writer, but I do know this. . . He wants you to put Him first, above writing, above anything. When you obsess over publication, networking, marketing, or anything other than Him, it’s called idolatry. And if that’s the case, then yes, you should be doing something else. You should be focusing on Him.

It’s healthy to check your heart motivations now and then to discover where your priorities lie. If this doubt rears it’s ugly head and drives you to your knees, that’s a good thing.

It’s not, however, good to wallow in this doubt. Don’t consort with this beastie and make him your best pal. If you can honestly say that you’re putting God first, and still the desire to write doesn’t go away, then pull out your silver pen and drive it right into the monster’s heart.

Sure, there are lots more doubts lurking out there in the dark, but starting with these 3 biggies will give you the edge to tackle those creepers. What doubt monster will you slay next?

Michelle’s been writing since she first discovered blank wall space and Crayolas...professionally, however, for the past 10 years. Her recent release is A HEART DECEIVED, a gothic regency put out by David C. Cook (June 2013). If you’d like to keep up with her escapades, you can find her at www.michellegriep.com or www.writerofftheleash.blogspot.com or feel free to stalk her on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest.

5 comments:

Ron Estrada said...

Thanks for the inspiration, Michelle. I actually did give up writing for almost two years. You know the old saying "if you love someone let them go"? It works for writing, too. It felt as if a part of me had been cut off. Now I've been throwing myself back into it for a little more than a year, and I can attest that it is the act of writing that is the answer to God's call, not publication. That will follow, but to resist the call is like holding your spirit in bondage. To answer the call is freedom. Loving every minute of it!

Michelle Griep said...

Yes! Yes! Yes! And dare I say. . . yes! So glad for you, Ron.

Ane Mulligan said...

Doubt will always plague the writer ... actually any artist ... for their entire career. It's the passion for excellence that drives us. We just need to learn to throw a harness on it and use it for our benefit. :)

Nicole said...

You captured it well, Michelle and Ron. Yes.

Kathy Harris said...

Michelle, I love this, especially the "honest truth," that we need to stay close to God, to check our heart motivations... and to enjoy the act of writing with/or without expectation.