This week I had a mini panic attack. Without meaning to (or trying to), I’d become really pessimistic about my chances of making it as a writer. Doubtful thoughts – such as what’s the point of trying? I’m not that good at this anyway – tumbled through my mind over and over again until I’d started to fully believe them. And as my friends from my MFA program know, I didn’t used to feel that way. I’ve prided myself as being an optimistic writer. As I started querying my first manuscript, even with rejections coming in on a regular basis, I kept the faith. I convinced myself that I would succeed – that all I needed to do was have patience.

Well, I hate to admit that my patience basically evaporated. Every time I would write, I let the pesky little Debbie Downer voice completely take over. Fellow writers, you know just who I mean. That little voice that repeatedly says, “you really suck at this! Wow, you call this writing? You’re never gonna get this published! Might as well cut your losses now and find something else to fill this time with. Have you considered taking up knitting? Hmm. Nevermind. You’d probably suck at that, too.”

But this week someone whose opinion I really respect and trust shook me out of it. She reminded me that, while that voice is needed sometimes, it must be ignored while you’re writing and completing a first draft. Instead, you have to make room for your opposite, probably overconfident voice I’ll just call Spunky Sally that says things like, “Oh my God! You are so brilliant! Wow. Don’t stop! You are destined to become the next great American author. Hemingway who?!” Before you say anything, I realize this is a little over the top. But you have to think these things in order to finish up. THEN, once you complete that first brilliant first draft, you can unplug your ears and let the Debbie Downer voice speak up again to let you know that, quite frankly, this first draft is utter garbage. BUT, as Spunky Sally will pipe in, don’t despair! With some serious revising, it’ll get better! Send it to one or more of your critique buddies that will help you see its potential. It will be amazing. You know why?

Because you, fellow frustrated writer, are awesome. And you can do this!

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