I think one of the most difficult times to go through is the period that can pass where you don’t trust yourself as a writer. I think this is the basis of writer’s block, or at least stands at the heart of such problems as lack of commitment or inconsistent effort.
There are ways of course, around it, to build trust with yourself.
One of the most effective ways that I found to start trusting my writing self, was to acknowledge every effort, and I still do it. I give myself a pat on the back every time I write. But beyond that, to also acknowledge that each time is another time that I’ve done the work and that each of these times adds up to a career as a writer. (This is actually a great tool to use willy nilly in your working and personal life too; it’s a great relationship builder, period.)
And now, after doing this with myself for the past nearly 7 years, I’m at the point where I realise, I actually trust myself as a writer.
But what does this mean?
Well, it means (by way of example) this: on Thursday morning I woke up and thought about the fact that I had two 1000 word creative pieces to write and hand in by next Friday (me tending to be a slowish writer, although not always) and 4 days of working my day job, uni, several night long social events that are happening between now and then (which I am bloody well going to because right now, and hardly ever does this happen, I need to go)… well, it was almost a stress scenario.
Then Thursday afternoon rolled around and it was stinking hot and too hot to do anything so I sat down and read some readings for uni and then opened up a word document and shat onto the page (and that’s another thing, just let it come out, inspect it later or flush it away…). I then read the result out loud and released a whole truck load of emotion that had been stopping up my creative flow while doing it (life’s been a little bit rough lately). And reread it, and rewrote, and reread and tinkered a bit more… and so on, for about 5 times… and voila, one assignment down, bam! Thank you.
The next day at my usual Friday writing group I opened up a story I’ve been writing and which I thought was going to be much longer and started to write… and realised while I was writing that it was actually my second piece for uni and totally appropriate for my class which is all about the nature of narrative (the first piece is for an experimental writing subject). When I got home I kept writing and finished that one too… (just a couple of hundred more words, you can do it…)
What a relief. Friday afternoon we took an impromptu trip to the coast and rambled down a wild cliff to a secluded, wild beach and ran and swam naked in the surf, then went out for dinner (which we rarely do) in a town we rarely visit (and I bumped into an old friend from another life in another town, years ago…), all with no stress or procrastination guilt at all. Or doubt in my ability to create.
On the way there I said to my husband, ‘you know, I think I really finally trust myself as a writer’ (share your accomplishments with someone who cares!), and that, boys and girls, is the best feeling ever.
I feel like now the future is really open to me as a writer.