Friday, January 1, 2010

Welcome to Word-by-Word! The beginning of a new year seems like the perfect time to try something new. Writing is mostly a solitary act, and sometimes we feel alone in our experiences. As someone who is still learning about the craft and business of writing, I wanted a place to share random thoughts and connect with other writers. My hope is that the blog will be interactive with an exchange of ideas and support. If you have an aspect of writing you'd like us to discuss, please leave a message in the comments section, and I'll include it in an upcoming post. I hope to hear from you!

Writing and Self-Doubt

Most days when school is in session there's little time to do anything except school work and household chores. This holiday season, thanks to the blizzard, I've had two weeks off from school. The perfect time to get some writing done.

Every morning I told myself that I'd block out some time for writing, but the days passed with very little time spent writing. It seemed like there was always something else that needed my attention. It often happens this way, when I have a lot of time to write, I don't. Now, with only two days before I return to a busy teaching schedule, I'm questioning why I haven't worked on any of my projects.

Is it because I don't really want to write? I don't think that's it. I make time to write in my journal almost every day. I write emails to friends and family. I write poems, stories, and essays to use in my classroom (not great pieces of literature, but they serve the purpose.)

Am I just being a lazy procrastinator? Hmmm, maybe, but anytime I have a deadline to meet (writing or otherwise), I always finish early. I just finished a work-for-hire project where I wrote 30 short poems (4-6 lines each) in about 3 weeks. It was an assignment. I signed a contract. It had to be done, so I got right to work. In fact, I've had a number of poems and essays published, but almost all of those were "assignments" with deadlines.

Am I someone who wants to "have written" instead of actually doing the writing? I don't that that's it either. When I finally get started writing, I'm totally immersed in it and lose all track of time.

So what is keeping me from accomplishing my writing goals? Could it be the fear that I'm really not very good at writing? Every time I start working on one of my "projects" Self Doubt jumps up on the keyboard and growls, "Who do you think you are? Look at the great poems and stories other people are writing. You're wasting your time. No one wants to read your writing, leave it to the professionals!"

Suddenly, my mind is paralyzed just like the day I had a panic attack and couldn't make a left-hand turn on a busy intersection. Car horns blared , a man in a pick-up truck shouted obscenities out of his window, and my two young sons in the back seat begged me to, "Go!" I couldn't think. I couldn't move. Writing feels like that sometimes.

Funny, how it never happens when I write in my journal or emails or poems just for me. No one judges that kind of writing, do they? No worries about looking foolish or embarrassing myself for not using enough imagery or the right words. I just write for the joy of it.

So, here I am on New Year's Day with big dreams of writing poems and stories that inspire and encourage young readers. I've tried to move on to something else and give up my dream, but the writing bug won't let go.

How do I overcome self-doubt and get on with the writing? Would I be happier keeping my writing to myself? Will I ever know if my writing is truly good enough for others to want to read? These are the questions I need to answer for myself.

Have you ever struggled with feelings of self-doubt? If so, I'd love to know what you've done to overcome it.

You can read about how another writer deals with self-doubt here.


  1. Congratulations on starting the New Year off with a bang. I can't wait to read more.

    As to self-doubt, I've had a lot this year. Since the death of my father in May, everything I write is tinged with sadness or references to death. I can't seem to shake it. So now, I have serious doubts about what I'm doing. Right now I'm plugging along, but I haven't come up with any real solutions. I am, however, confident I will.

    Happy new year to you!

  2. Thank you, Tricia. I appreciate you sharing your experience. I have a lot of sadness in my life right now too, and it shows up in my poems. I wonder if we ever truly overcome self-doubt or just learn to move on.

    Keep in touch, and let me know the solutions on come up with.
    Happy new year!

  3. Linda, It's so smart to ask yourself these questions...I enjoyed your post a lot.

    So are you doing both blogs now, or will this be your main blog now?

    Happy 2010!

  4. Hi Laura, I haven't really decided yet. I just felt like I needed an outlet to share the questions and feelings I have about writing. I'm guess I'm just trying to figure things out.

    Happy new year to you too.