There are 5 stages to this special kind of writer break. I am referring to it as a ‘break’ as it is just another form of distraction and can take you away from your creative work for hours, day and sometimes months. It is a special kind of break as you get some interesting mental issues which are not seen with a writer’s coffee break, writer’s nap break or a writer’s bath break.
The Writer’s Self-Doubt Break:
- Writer Confidence. The self-doubt break always follows a period of confidence. For a (short) time you will have been pleased with your writing and quite possibly enjoying it. Cue your blog posts titled ‘I love my writing’, tweets #lovemywriting and photos all over Instagram of you typing away surrounded by pretty flowers and bathed in heavenly golden light. All good things in Writing Land must come to an end!
- Voice of Doubt. It can come on in an instant. You read something you have written and a little voice deep inside you says “do you really think that is good writing?” and it quickly follows that up with “OMG you have produced a pile of literary wrong!” You place your head in your hands and groan. Anxiety starts to knot inside your gut and then slowly builds. You can kiss goodbye to doing any writing for the rest of the day.
- Self Doubt Break. In a matter of minutes you start your Writer’s Self Doubt Break. Your brain starts to torture you by forcing you to read parts of your manuscript whilst the voice of doubt says ‘it’s not great is it?!’ and ‘why are you even bothering with writing?!’ Nausea creeps in as you start to regret all the blog posts about how great your writing made you feel and those sugary sweet tweets. When you are taking a Writer’s Self-Doubt Break you will find that your body starts to stoop, your shoulders hunch, you are unable to look people in the eye and you feel like saying “I am a bad writer so I am just going to shrivel away”. You have to walk away from your writing or in some extreme instances start pressing ‘delete’ in a mad tearful frenzy or even printing it out to set fire to it in the garden. Whilst taking a Writer’s Self-Doubt break you will find that tears and emotional breakdowns are added bonuses.
- Self Doubt Exclusivity. You start to believe that you are the only writer taking time away from their manuscript to doubt their work / writing ability and purpose in life. Cue the look of suffering and wailing. Followed by the frantic emails to writer friends titled ‘My Personal Hell’. It is only when they write back reminding you that every writer takes a regular Self-Doubt Break, it is perfectly normal and that every good writer questions their work that you start to calm down. Bless those writer friends!
- A Glimmer of Hope. The Writer’s Self-Doubt break ends when you stop reading your work and just carry on writing (let us all pray you didn’t delete all copies in stage 3). Weirdly the act of just writing and ignoring the voice makes it go away. Just concentrate on laying down one word and then the next. It does work – I have tried it. In comparison to the forms of Writer Breaks above, this sort of break leaves you feeling weakened and a shadow of your former self.
I have recently discovered Jenna Moreci on YouTube and she does an excellent and hilarious video on the subject of self-doubt. Click here and I will take you to her!
Have a great day!
Photo: Brook Cagle via Unsplash