Writers aren’t alone in being sensitive. Lots of people are prone to self-doubt.
Almost everybody—except most real estate agents—question themselves, and the quality of their work, from time to time. It’s natural.
What isn’t natural, perhaps, or at least to some, is to never question, to always believe what you do is perfect indisputable genius. Many writers, whether professional or not, would find it difficult to utter the phrase, “All my writing is of the highest quality.” Before you could say “Who do you think you are? William Shakespeare?” the self-doubt and criticism would jump out of the psyche (quicker than a road-raging Olympic gymnast out of a rear-ended sports sedan) ready to cite multiple examples of your poor quality work.
“What about that blog post you spent all morning on—then trashed because it meandered more aimlessly than a roller skating drunk on the crookedest street in the world?”
“Are you forgetting the un-produced television series you spent months writing—with that writing pal of yours you haven’t seen since he criticized your ‘terrible’ grammar?”
and then there’s…
“And do I need to remind you about the hundreds of half-arsed ideas for stories scattered throughout your drawers, filing cabinet and winter jacket pockets, which you KNOW aren’t really worth pursuing beyond the torn out scraps of paper you scribbled them on? How’s that for ‘writing of the highest quality’?”
Yes, sometimes, even I—Mr Write Thought T Positive-Writing-Affirmation-man—find today’s writing affirmation a bit difficult to say.
But that doesn’t mean I can’t see the truth in it.
A Helpful Philosophy
All you need is a certain kind of philosophy. A philosophy that allows no room for the idea that we are ever giving anything less than exactly what we believe is in our best interests to give at any given time.
Maybe today’s affirmation should be: “All my writing is of the highest ‘possible at the time’ quality.”
Personally, the belief (is it really a philosophy, Ben?) I am always doing my absolute best—even when I’m not— is one I try and apply to every aspect of my life: i.e. all of us are always doing the very best we can, or know how to, at any given time.
Why would we not be doing our best? Even if we are unconsciously self-sabotaging—by not giving one-hundred-per-cent or by expressing ourselves in some other less than ‘perfect’ way—we are only doing that because we believe it will get us the result we seek.
Now the ‘result’ we seek may very well be to gain criticism, to fuel an erroneous belief we are unworthy or undeserving of greatness, or it may be to gather evidence of the impossibility of achieving our wildest dreams; what you look for you’ll see—that kind of thing? But still we are the ‘perfect’ creators of that life experience; I believe the Universe responds very accurately to our expectation of it.
Coping With Self-doubt
I guess in the end what we’re really talking about here (with this series of writing affirmations) is self-doubt vs self-belief. Old bull dog writers like Ernest Hemingway handled their less-than-perfect output by affirming beliefs like “The first draft of anything is shit.” The brilliant film-maker and screenwriter, Francis Ford Coppola, said about self-doubt, “I don’t think there’s any artist of any value who doesn’t doubt what they’re doing.”
But maybe it’s just when that voice of doubt creeps up and upon us—like the life-draining, creativity-destroying energy it speaks for—we need to affirm something positive, something to keep us on the track of precise and powerful communication, something like….
“All my writing is of the highest quality.”
And by saying it, maybe we will make it so?
N.B. If you enjoyed this post you might also enjoy these other Write Thought Tees:
No. 2 - Brevity is the soul of Twit
No. 3 - How to write for one person