The following is my official entry which is to be posted on our blogs.
Now put the word, writer’s, in front of doubt and you have what anyone who’s penned their thoughts has felt at some point—the uncertainty of their skills, the unlikely possibility that their work is publishable and lack of confidence.
I have learned to overcome self-doubt by attempting the very thing I doubted I could do.
Several years ago, I was asked to join our church’s praise band as its pianist. I had played piano in church services, weddings and funerals—but not in a band setting. I doubted my ability to do this.
But I cast aside the doubtful thoughts and decided to try—with a slight push from the lead singer who said the band wouldn’t continue without a new pianist. A well placed guilt trip can be very effective.
So I did it.
Wrong notes happened and still do. Sometimes I need to simplify difficult sections. Once during a Sunday service we had to start a song over because I just didn’t have the intro right. The world didn’t end and we had a good laugh.
Turning my thoughts in a positive direction and taking action is how I overcame this doubt.
I begin nursing school this fall. At the age of forty-six. To be accepted, I needed to pass the entrance exam. There were over 140 people taking this exam. 140 people hoping to get one of the forty-five spots in the nursing program.
Putting self-doubt aside, I did what I needed to do to get one of those seats. I bought a study guide and took review classes in math and chemistry. I played science games on my phone while waiting for appointments and watched youtube videos on anatomy.
Taking action and not being ruled by negative thoughts was required to overcome the doubt of being able to enter nursing school.
Now I find myself with a desire to write. That desire comes when I observe a stranger in a crowd. Their mannerisms, expressions and energy all help me to create a story about them. I have a desire to inspire others to create great futures regardless of their pasts, so I blog.
Because of this desire, I aspire to write a book.
But doubt creeps in.
It tells me that I’m unlikely to be a ‘real’ writer. Real writers are other people. Other people are cut out to write books, not me.
This is where I say, “STOP”. All of us who desire to write need to hear that word.
Stop believing our words don’t matter.
Stop believing we’re not cut out to write books.
We can’t control every thought that pops into our head. If doubt pops in, we can listen to it and ruminate on it, or we can say stop.
Stop the thoughts that feed doubt when they come up and take action in moving forward.
The thoughts we choose to rule our minds will shape our life. Thoughts of doubt will occur, but what we do with those thoughts are what matters.
Writer’s doubt is no different from doubting our ability in any other area of life.
If we believe the lies that doubt is telling us, then our actions will follow those thoughts.
If we acknowledge that doubtful thoughts will occur, but turn our minds in a more positive direction, our actions will follow.
Thoughts drive our actions.
Knowing this is how I handle writer’s doubt. Is it a magical formula that I say to myself once and walla! I never have doubt again?
I have to say it often. Again and again. But I have the tools to handle doubtful thoughts.
- Stop and don’t feed the thoughts.
- Take action in a positive direction.
My thoughts today: I am a writer. My words matter. Therefore, I will write.
To my writer friends: You are a writer. Your thoughts matter.