Monday, September 26, 2011

Conquering Doubt

Tip of the Day: Did you know about Marvelous Middle Grade Monday? Google that phrase for fantastic book recommendations, interviews, and contests.

I can become overwhelmed with doubt when I'm stuck in the middle of a novel. The beginning is bright and shiny. The end means I get to start something new soon, even if it's just a round of revisions. I prefer revising to writing a first draft, which can be like drawing blood for me. The middle means I have tons more to write and THEN tons of revision work on top of it. I can't do all that work!

So now that I'm stuck in the middle, here are some methods I'm using to counteract doubt:

1. Take advice I give my kids. It's probably good advice or I'd keep my mouth shut, right? Like "Don't say you're too stupid to do that. You're very smart; you're just looking for an excuse not to do it." Or "You're never motivated to do something until you've started doing it." Or my son's favorite: "Soonest begun, soonest done." (By favorite, I mean every time I say it, he rolls his eyes so far back in his head, he almost falls over backwards.)

2. Yoga stretches. When I'm feeling overwhelmed at the keyboard, a few stretches and focused breathing make me feel better.

3. Stop aiming for the perfect first draft. Honestly, that should be in all caps, but I respect your eyes. I write like I shop for groceries: get in everything that's possible so I don't have to go back again any time soon. It doesn't work at the supermarket and it definitely doesn't work for writing. I've been sweating over setting descriptions, and my writing buddies Debbie and Christy said, you can insert them on revision. You know, I totally forgot I'm allowed to do that.

4. Open the Word document. Leave it open. Make it as easy as possible to get going. Trust that someone or something will help me fix whatever mess I put in the file.

I don't think it's that unusual for writers and other creative people to have a list of ways to conquer self-doubt. I'm always looking to add to my list of techniques if you have any tips.

-- Kate, Miss Perfecting the Pages


Faith E. Hough said...

#4 is very important for me, too. Just seeing my story there makes me more willing to jump into it than, say, check my email for the millionth times as I delay. Thanks for the advice!

Andrea Mack said...

Great post, Kate! One thing I try to do is start writing first thing. My brain is fresher and I can sometimes bypass the doubts (or maybe I'm just half asleep and the doubts haven't had as much time to creep in).

DeenaML said...

Yes, keep the Word doc open! It also saves time on my slow-loading PC when I'm trying to cram in some edits during lunch at work.

Christina Farley said...

These are VERY good tips. Love them. I do stretching too when I'm writing a lot. I love having my laptop and then I sit on the floor and stretch and write.