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Thursday, December 22, 2011

Seft-Doubt. I *Think* I'm Good - How 'bout You?


Ever trashed or deleted a piece of work you later wished was recoverable?

Haven’t we all…

Is there a literary love of your life that’s never seen the light?

Sshhh, mine’s in the black, steel filing cabinet… I remove the half-finished manuscript several times a year to caress and yearn over the fading pages like I was Gollum with the RingJ
It's mine, it's mine!

So, after spending hours, days, months and even years on a writing project or manuscript, why do we do this to ourselves?

For me, at least, the main reason I’ve gone there on multiple occasions

it’s a large filing cabinet

is one hundred percent due to self-doubt.


Such a mean word. Even though I knew how to spell it, I still did a spell-check to make sure the hyphen is used.

Webster’s Online Dictionary lists self-doubt as “lack of self confidence” and for various reasons I spent a few years – a few years ago – mired in a lack of self confidence.

It was only after I pulled those infamous boot straps up and fought for my first writing gig in 2003 that I later woke up with a magazine by my side and a smidgen of self confidence in my head.

Later, when I saw my name in the local newspaper

with no court date attached

I baby-stepped my way to a confident corner.

That is, until one day, while gainfully employed as a Staff Reporter working on a deadline that I realized the words on the page were just crap.

Pure, unadulterated, shoot

my interview was weak, the feature was off-point and I knew my editor would kill me.

So I did the adult thing: I deleted everything and stormed off to bed.

Next day, I thought I could salvage said deletion, but it was gone.

This is about when I discovered that this writing thing isn’t as easy as they say.

OK then smarty-pants, so how do you get over your self-doubts now?

Oh, how I wish I could offer the solution to your self-doubts. But, if I could, I wouldn’t be a writer, I’d be some sort of late-night television infomercial dude wearing a blue polo shirt, sharing how *you* too can enjoy the painless cure to self-doubt for only 237 easy payments of $19.95 (plus a 25-year lien on your abode to cover our low-cost shipping, processing and express handling.)

BUT WAIT!! Read on, I’ll share what’s working for me… and that’s pricelessJ

If you’ve checked out any of my other posts, you’ll see I tend to write with an alleged sprinkling of humor.

Good grief… how can you write about ridding self-doubt and then turn around to say your writing is “allegedly” funny…

Oh, yes, ahem. So I’m a fantastically talented and funny writer of humor

Dude, seriously….

Sorry, I’m not used to giving advice, so mahalo for bearing with me.

Indeed, it was only this week that I finally figured out – for me – a rock solid way of demolishing the doubts.

For the very first time, my wife read one of my posts out loud – while I was in the same room.

Don’t ask me why this hasn’t happened before – but it hasn’t, and oh my gosh…. It was so awesome to hear her – and Uncle Jerry – laughing about our efforts to build a gingerbread house.

The second way was more internal. The more I post, the more my views grow, which leads to more comments.

Comments from readers who are not related to me.

Comments from readers whom I’ve never met, and who live in other continents.

Comments from folks who’ve said they’ve been looking forward to reading my latest post.

Seriously? Really?


Sure I’m not a published author


 but I’m a better writer than before I started blogging – and that’s my point.

As 2011 ends, so does my self-doubt. I am a good writer, working to become a great writer.

My Write History
How about you?

With about a week left in the year, why not take a look inwards. Is there a Gollum hiding in your workroom?

Do you read email, check Facebook or view the weather in your hometown before settling down to write?

What self-doubts might be holding you back?


Hope Roberson said...

I feel like I ride a roller coaster of writing, self doubt is at the bottom of every hill, then I climb back up and enjoy the ride. I'm not sure if the roller coaster ends with publishing or if it's the journey of writing for my entire life, we'll see :) Nice post, and I enjoy your sense of humor!

Lara Schiffbauer said...

I have come to think of self-doubt as part of the process, kind of like Hope. The successes only last so long, and they're great, but I'm always looking forward to what's next. There isn't a place where you can stop and say "I'm good enough" because I think that's the kiss of death. Writing is something that gets better the more you do it, and so we, as writers, are always trying to reach the next peak of the hill, to borrow from Hope! Luckily, there are those successes that indicate to us that our writing is growing, and we are progressing. But I'm not sure the self-doubt will ever go away. To stay in the game, we have to continue writing, and growing, in spite of the doubts. Dang, I'm so somber! That's why I come over here, to get light hearted!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

You're not published, but the key word is yet!
You really need to join the Insecure Writer's Support Group, Mark. You'd fit right in!

Sheri L. Swift, Author said...

Very well said! I am in the middle of producing an audiobook & it is incredible to not only hear your words back to you, but hear the characters being played out as well. Looking forward to all that 2012 has to offer! ; )

Anonymous said...

I think that everyone is insecure to some degree or another. I'm insecure because I am slightly dyslexic, and I didn't really learn about grammer and stuff growing up. (Yeah I learned it, but I never really kept it in my head).

I know what my weaknesses are, and I'm learning to improve them. But I also know my strength. My writing strength is passion, and a love for my story.

Mark you are a great writer. You are witty, smart, and just plain great. Keep writing and soon, I will be so excited to tell the world that you, my friend, published a book.

Lillie McFerrin said...

My two biggest issues are self-doubt and crap writing :) But, seriously blogging has helped me a ton as well. It's nice to have people point out things I do well in writing to counteract the way I tear my writing apart. I think it's important to be your own critic, but knowing it's a learning experience is the key!

Jenny S. Morris said...

I grinned my way through this post. Self-doubt bounces around in all of our heads. But you seem to have a great attitude, and I think I'll join you. I'm going to work on leaving my self-doubt in 2011. Having people to cheer you on helps too.


C D Meetens said...

I think a little bit of self-doubt is a good way to drive yourself to do better. It's when it becomes crippling (and you delete that piece you want to retrieve the next morning) that you need to give it a stern talking to. My problem is it always answers me back...

Great post. It's reminded me I can push past the self-doubt if I push hard enough.

Cassie Mae said...

Self-doubt happens no matter what we are in life. As a mother, I doubt myself all the time. Wondering if my kids will turn out like monsters and it'll all be because I didn't let them have that piece of candy that one time. Or because I let them have too much.

Same thing with writing. We don't know the future and it's freaky scary! But we need to hang on and enjoy the ride, not worry so much about it and really focus on those moments when we feel like we're finally getting things right.

I think it's Jimmy Eat World that says this...

Hey, don't write yourself off yet. It's only in your head you feel left out, or looked down on. Just do your best, do everything you can. It doesn't matter what the bitter hearts are gonna say. It just takes some time in the middle of the ride. Everything, everything will be just fine.
Everything, everything will be all right, all right.

Before I sing the whole song, I'll stop this ridiculously long comment, lol.

Mark Koopmans said...

@EVERYONE:) Seriously, I can't begin to thank you all for taking the time to put so much thought and efforts into the comments below... I'm blown away and am *so* appreciative... Mahalo, and now for some personalized replies:

@Hope: Thanks and I think I'm right behind you on that roller coaster (I'm the one screaming like a gurl :)

@ Lara: Hey, they're *not* somber at all - and I'm glad to lighten your heart :) You're right, though...I'm still working on the memoir, but already thinking about the next project, but we got to keep moving, right:)

@Alex: Hey, thanks, that would be sweet! Where's the signup sheet? :)

@Sheri: OMG, an audio book... that's a dream gig... you must be having so much fun hearing your characters coming to life:) Good luck, and yeah, let's ALL work the imagination and delve in '12 :)

@Mel: OMG, you’ve had to deal with dyslexia and you’re a writer!! Now, *that’s*overcoming self-doubt! I’m so glad you’re “down” with your weaknesses and strengths. That’s half the battle, right… the rest is penning the story. PS… Mahalo for the very kind words, and right back at you with a small change: “Mel, you are a great writer. You are witty, smart, and just plain great. Keep writing and soon, I will be so excited to tell the world that you, my friend, published a book.”

@Lillie: God bless blogging, that’s all I can say. The positive responses I’ve received in the last three months have been greater than anything I’ve ever experienced in my nine years of writing. Down with crap writing, and long live the comment section:)

@Jenny: So glad you (and everyone else) enjoyed the post that stressed me out while writing…of course:) And, yeah let’s start the New Year with a positive attitude of helping ourselves by cheering on others… In fact, how about this…. You’ve heard of the book/movie “Band of Brothers”… we could start the “Band of Prodders”

@C D: Thanks for sharing and reminding me I’m not alone….oh, and how I *hate* that answering-back voice :)

@Cassie Mae: By the way, mahalo for the follow :) What’s funny – and I never realized until reading through your awesome comments) is that my Friday “You Know You’re A Parent When…” posts are written, in part, because I’m so full of doubt as to how to be the “right” parent – my “therapy” is to share some of the pitfalls and successes with y’all – and I am so grateful for each and every person who’s visited my blog :)
PS… Seeing as I stopped listening to music as soon as the Eighties left the building I’d not heard of Jimmy Eat World… but they some *good* lyrics :)

Sarah Tokeley said...

Meh, it would take too long to talk about my self-doubt and I'm in too good a mood, so I'll just say, I love your writing - as evidenced by the fact that even when I don't get time to read blogs, I save yours and read them days later.

Keep on doing more of this stuff you do next year :-)

Green Monkey said...

I have a self doubt crown 'cause I am the queen of doubt! but yes, the blog has helped me to become a better writer. I found my voice here, which is what I set out to do. I am also not a published writer (YET) and once I started reading and following other writer blogs I realized I'm not alone and that is very comforting as well. Wishing you a very Happy Holiday my friend, my friend that I've never met and read and look forward to reading :) MonkeyME

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