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Sunday, August 5, 2007

Self Doubt and Sabotage

The other day I was driving down Pico Boulevard when a cool idea for a kid’s book hit me. Excitedly, I turned the idea over and over in my head and began really taking seriously that I should start this book. Then it hit. The Don’t Bother Train. You know the one. It sounds like this:

All the stories have already been told. There’s just no point. There's too much competition. Throw in the towel. Forget it. Throw in the towel. Forget it. Don'tbotherdon'tbotherdon'tbother...

And that dark train of doubt rides on into the night leaving it's faint, melancholy whistle drifting on the wind.

Believe it or not, Rouge Wavers, this negative stream of consciousness is something that goes through my mind every once in awhile. And I am a relatively evolved, spiritual person who has been published multiply in the past. I have a manager, I have a writing partner and I have made writing, in one form or another, my life. And yet I still feel so discouraged by the enormity of it all sometimes. By the odds in Hollywood but worse – by the feeling that every writer has already said everything that there is to say.

The minute I began to think about my children’s book idea, about 38 reasons came to me why I shouldn’t bother. I sabotaged myself before I even began.

How does one fight that chug-chugging train of negativity and doubt that seems to seek out hope only to crush it under its wheels? The Wave-inatrix says:

If writing brings you joy – just do it. Believe that you have something to say and believe that it’s worth the effort. You might just have a brilliant story inside of you, or an Academy Award winning movie. Or a moving poem. You might have a charming, heartfelt story that will be published in the Reader's Digest or simply pressed between the pages of a book and discovered and relished by your grandchild. Write because writing feels good. Write because writing is a gift and it is yours to develop and enjoy.

When you feel too discouraged and the odds seem crushingly, completely stacked against you – take a break from it, get out and exercise, do something fun and then later on, sneak back to your quiet desk – you know you will – and get back to work on that script, novel or essay. Do it for the primal joy of storytelling and the intoxicating romance we have with words. Odds schmods. Tell me a story.

As for that cool kid's book idea? I have begun to outline.

I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work.
Thomas A. Edison

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screen scribe said...

I've been in the position of self doubt and sabotage myself lately, and somehow I manage to wrestle myself out of it's stranglehold and drop back down into the chair for another session of writing.

Thank you for the great post.

Christian M. Howell said...

I'd rather steal it and make it mine. I don't really care how hard this is, I won't stop.

I believe in my stories, some not always non-stop action but they always have something real to say.

I may become famous for breaking all the rules. No smoking or sex in a college movie? That's me.

Serious themes in a fantasy comedy? Why not?

More emphasis on consistent imagery than beginning-middle-end? Hey I'm your man.

Strong female leads who aren't looking for a man? My favorite.

Here's to breaking all of the rules.

annabel said...

Best wishes! :)

And thanks! I needed to hear that!

Subservient No More said...

Oh thank you for this. I've been doing this to myself a lot lately. I have this awful, mean inner-editor who sabotages me all the time. I've been plotting her murder though. It's bloody.

When the inner-editor pipes up and starts bitching I just keep repeating over and over "KEEP WRITING! KEEP WRITING!" and try to drown her out.

Anonymous said...

Parents have the advantage of experience, their own children, and other families to test market book ideas.
A children's book can even be given away as publicity. Still a sizeable challenge.
But how do you test a screenplay in its final form?

Every children's screenplay sale on Done Deal already has a book, toy, video game, comic,
in place to pull an audience.

Last month on Zoetrope, there was a screenplay about toys in a day care center
coming to life at night and gossiping about the kids. Great idea for a movie.
But think how sellable that would be with a successful book leading the way.

I was talking with a friend last night, who knows when I'm unhappy ( probably because I tell them )
They asked if I was being sure to do things each day that make me happy.
So I went to a local sports bar for cheese jalapeno nachos and a Greek salad.

Andrea Hall said...

That train picked me up somewhere along on the way,followed by my other occasional companion, that big black dog. Fortunately, my trip was a round trip fare. I got a transfer to another train!Thanks so much for your sharing your feelings and revelations about doubt, Julie. Andrea Layman Hall