Friday, February 15, 2013

Writer's Doubt

Everyone feels like they fake it sometimes. Don't
think you're the only one. Illustration from here.
I don't believe there's such a thing as writer's block. Never have, really. Sure every writer struggles with concepts, constructing sentences that are supposed to make sense and come out like a bad Hunter Thompson hallucinations but that's par for the course. It happens to us all.

But where does it come from?

My opinion - because this is my soapbox - is that it's doubt. I've known a lot of creative types, even business types, who think that they're in over their heads. That sinking feeling that really they are a fraud and sooner rather than later they will be found out and excoriated for having dare to pretend they are anything more than anyone else.

There's the cliche of someone looking at an abstract piece of art and saying "My four-year old could do that! How is that art?"

The cliche of the starving artist having to work a crappy job at a fast food restaurant, who talks about making art with friends who don't understand, who say "do you want fries with that?" is common, too.

We are programmed to not reach beyond ourselves unless it's in terms of sport. Women aren't supposed to be as successful in business as men. They aren't supposed to be as smart. (Remember when a talking Barbie once said "Math is hard?") People from lower class circumstances aren't supposed to be smart or pretty or funny or anything that the middle class isn't.

As a society we look down on people who want to create things, or change things, or make things better for others who aren't as fortunate. We belittle, we demean, we make these people and the lower classes they champion feel somehow less for not toeing the line. How dare they want others to have what we have? Why, that's communist!

It's bullshit.

What it creates, when people who are smarter and richer and prettier than you are, is doubt. Of course I can't be better than what I am. I was born into this. I am supposed to be less than them. What was I thinking?

You were thinking that you could be like your hero, your inspiration, your muse.

Maybe you can't be exactly like that person or persons but that doesn't mean you can't try and be your own person who might inspire someone else further down the line. For me, I'll never be a writer like Heinlein or Gaiman or Wyllis Cooper. But I can be a writer who writes and learns and grows as a writer and become my own persona. I can be myself.

It's getting past the crap that we pull down onto ourselves that causes the greatest harm. Don't listen to the detractors, don't let the bastards grind you down. Reach as far as you can and keep on doing it. Exceed your grasp.

When you look back, you'll find you've reached farther than you ever thought you could when you started.

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