Our Confidence can die on the vine of negativity. While we should always acknowledge our strengths, that alone will not silence the other voices in our head that reply, “Yeah, but …”
There are a lot of self-help gurus who will tell you how to get rid of your inner critic. That is far too new agey, everyone is special, you can do anything if you want to bad enough, clap-trap that will backfire every time.
This head in the sand approach doesn’t resolve the negative feelings we have about ourselves. It is nothing more than a child covering his ears and screaming I can’t hear you. The negativity remains, and no one can keep their hands over their ears forever. The solution does not lie in ignoring you negative inner voice but in managing it.
The Danger Of Negativity
Negativity is a saboteur. If your life is guided by this inner critic, you will be filled with frustration, resentment, and regret. Most of all, you will be filled with failure, not because you tried and failed, but because you wouldn’t allow yourself to try. Or you went through the motions of trying with the millstone of You Can’t around your neck.
For Creative Writers, most self doubt comes from their perception of their writing skills or their publishing success, and maybe both. We are all deficient in different ways, but we chose to be negative. Don’t let your inner negative voice bully you around.
The Value Of Negativity
As I said earlier, we will get nowhere if we try to shut out and completely stop this self-criticism. Acknowledge your negative inner voice, don’t avoid it. Only when you listen to and recognize these critical voices can they be dealt with in a constructive manner.
We may not care to admit it, but deep down we like to be negative. It’s somehow soothing in a pathological way. It’s our soul’s way of balling up under the blankets and eating a gallon of ice cream, and while this negative inner voice is comforting, our positive inner voice is challenging.
We need to realize that our negative inner voice is trying to protect us. We tell ourselves that we want to be writers, and our inner critic wishes to save us from disaster by trying to talk us out of it. You’re not that good of a writer! You’ll never be published! This is just our subconscious mind coming to our rescue.
Sometimes the negative inner voice is right, and his criticisms are justifiable. Let’s face it, no one is perfect. You and I have flaws by the bucketful. If we ignore our inner critic, we are refusing to listen to some of the most practical advice we may ever hear. Each of us knows of our shortcomings better than anyone else. So listen to your inner critic. This is the best way to improve upon what is deficient in our writing. But keep in mind that while often times your negative voice may not be lying to you, he may exaggerate.
The Answer To Negativity
Rudyard Kipling wrote that success and failure are both imposters. Keep that in mind when that voice insists you are not good enough. Face your failures and actively seek improvement. I guarantee you feel better in an instant. When I try to improve something that needs work, whether in my writing or my life, I get a charge from the challenge and opportunity before me.
So your inner voice insists you are not good enough to be an author? Just sit down and write anyway. This is one of the areas where a writer’s commitment is not only tested, but actually come and rescues the writer.
If you’re struggling with doubt, don’t look at the top of the ladder. Instead of contemplating how hard it would be to finish a novel, think of the small daily tasks that you know you can do. Outline a scene. Develop a character’s quirk. Sketch out the dialogue from a certain scene. Don’t look up and don’t look down. Just focus on the next rung.
Write down what your negative voice says, do pro/con list. If your critic says something vague like You’re not good enough, insist on something specific, something concrete, something that can be tested. Write down the criticism and all the arguments for it and against it. You may see that these doubts are not well founded at all.
Finally, take each criticism as a challenge. Make this deficiency into a new short term goal. So you’re not good enough in this or that area of your writing? Improve! Do what you can to conquer your shortcomings and you will have simultaneously conquered your self-doubts. Your Confidence as a Creative Writer will soar above the clouds. Not only will you be aware of this, but so will your reader.
Please Share this article with other writers you know. I’m sure they are hampered by doubt, too. And as always I would love to read your thoughts in the Comment section below.