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Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Dumping Self Doubt

Through the magic of technology, the Wave-inatrix can check up on Google searches that led readers to the Rouge Wave. Most common: "rogue wave". I hope those individuals are pleasantly surprised when they get to the Rouge Wave - psych! The other day I found a heart-breaking Google search for "dumping self doubt".

Oh Google searcher, you were led to The Rouge Wave for a reason. Writers are often plagued with self-doubt. It's practically a requirement. Do we have talent? Do we have the connections we need? Is any of this cool stuff ever going to happen for us? The Wave-inatrix has a client who has a script that went wide yesterday. Early word on the tracking boards is quite positive. Will he experience the thrill of victory or the agony of defeat? (hint: looking like the thrill of victory so far).

So how do you know if you can write? Or if you should be trying to win at this crazy game? Or if any of this is worth it? You don't.

Yes, it is true in the Wave-inatrix's experience that some writers really do have to work harder at that innate ability to work with language and with story - I guess that's the pc way of saying, no, not every aspiring writer has god-given talent. Do you? If you didn't, would someone tell you?

In my opinion, talent is either immediately evident but needs to be shaped and disciplined or it emerges slowly, as the writer finds his or her voice and style. So how can I possibly say that a writer has no talent when perhaps it just hasn't quite emerged and taken form yet?

I've seen it happen, Wavers - I've seen a writer go from all-over-the-map to quite good over the course of several years. Because that writer was me. But truth be told, I have always had a facility with and love of writing. I won poetry contests in grade school, I published in the yearbook and school paper - I guess you could say I got my start quite young. I still have my copy of the 1973 Writer's Market to put that into perspective.

It was my determination, belief and my love of reading, language and film that kept me going and going for so long. Until gradually a voice emerged and with that, publication, validation and confidence. Talent can be innate and it can also be groomed.

But what about dumping self-doubt? Can it be done? Sure it can. In the same way that you can dump worry, anxiety or depression. By sheer force of will and by holding on with an attitude of gratitude and joy. All writers get stuck in self doubt. As do most creatives. And heck, most humans, let's be real.

Self-doubt can fuel and energize us, but it can also be debilitating. Don't let it get in the way of your writing. Write for the sheer joy of it, maintain a perspective, always be learning more, watching films and reading great prose.

If you didn't have self-doubt, you wouldn't be human. But don't let it get in the way. Relax into life and writing and ride the horse with joy - don't let it ride you.

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Elver said...

B vitamins. B6 fights negative feelings, depression. B12 gives your nerve cells a boost. I'm currently taking pills with over 1000% of the usual daily dosage of each. No prescription needed. Best way I've found to combat self-doubt and all those other hindering emotions.

This Space Left Intentionally _________. said...

Ahhhh...thanks Julie for the title of my next script:

Ride the Horse with Joy!

About a college phenom who at the peak of his writing prowess (winner of screenwriting contest/industry demand for his scripts) has a breakdown and cannot write another word because of being plagued by self-doubt. He drops out of college, works a series of dead-end jobs, ends up homeless. Flash forward twenty-five years when through a series of mysteries (and comedic) events he re-discovers his talent and re-enters the screenwriting game...

Anthony Peterson said...

Thanks Julie. You are the "Dr Phil" of screen writing.