Listen To Your Doubt

"If you don't have doubts you're either kidding yourself or asleep. Doubts are the ants-in-the-pants of faith. They keep it alive and moving." - Frederick Buechner

I’m at halfway point of Augnowrimo and as I move along I can feel the Doubt start to creep in. Yes, Doubt with a capital D because sometimes that bastard is a monster. My inner-critic almost always speaks in a male voice, something I have not yet unraveled the origins of. Other times it sounds like my mother – usually when I’ve been wearing the same pajamas for three consecutive days – or an acquaintance that’s particularly skilled at announcing their every shinning triumph, usually when I feel like a Grade A hack.

Sometimes the critic (who I really think I should name Dick, purely for hilarity’s sake – better yet, Dick Dickerson in homage to those Jasper Fforde novels I so enjoy) is only in the back-right corner of my brain, located kiddie-corner from my ear. Other times he’s a full-on mental plague, spinning a running commentary to rival a Nascar pileup, about everything and anything I’ve ever done wrong. How I never finish anything, how my writing used to be good, entertaining, occasionally even beautiful – but now it’s just by the numbers. Manufactured, mechanical, formulaic as a Betty Crocker cake mix. That I should just stop now and save myself the pain, and everyone else who might be forced to read through my failures as a story-teller and all-round human being.

In short, Dick is a douchebag.

However, and this is where it gets weird, I also don’t trust writers who haven’t been visited by their own Dick. Personally, I think they’re lying out their asses. If you’re a creative person (an artist, a writer, a singer, a cook, an [insert occupation here]) there’s a high possibility – at some crucial juncture (a deadline, a late night, a ninth page edit) – you will doubt yourself. Your talent, your dedication, your goals. Unless you’re Robert Downey Jr., in which case you’re a charming, handsome, multi-talented freak of nature, that should be studied as the alien life-form that you are. Funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation and airing on PBS, for our gleeful weekly consumption.

I thought about quitting, caving in to Doubt, fantasied about sleeping before 5 AM. Considered closing down Scrivener, leaving a big red rectangular stain on my beautiful 19-day streak, and throwing myself in bed, to snuggle with my own self-loathing until I passed out. I whined on Facebook … and G+ and Twitter and my HabitRPG Guild. (The excellent thing about whining on social networks this late, is that no one was there to coddle me. Not even my international friends. Had they been there, I probably would have whined some more and quit.)

I looked at that post on Facebook.

It felt like a big, giant mark of my ineptitude. A page that already had words on it, had beaten me. I could either leave things that way (and hope that Facebook post garnered some sympathy comments by the morning) and or I could do something about it myself. Because I am stubborn, I chose door number zwei. I can’t say that the creative floodgates broke open at that point, but I was able to see something that my previously bricked up mind was ignoring.

I wanted to hit my goal, punch my timecard and go to bed. I wanted easy, and Doubt doesn’t give a fuck about my level of comfort. Doubt wants me to fight for it, to earn it. Whereas I just wanted to put my brain into standby, churn some shit out and call it a night. I wanted the achievement of writing without having to work for it. Once I went back to the scene, and started to work out of a desire to actually be there and enjoy the process, the words started to come loose. It took my until 6 AM, but I managed to hit my goal and I’m really proud of what I got down. Turns out, when I listen, Doubt can do good things for me.

Even if he is still a Dick. 🙂

Categories: INFJ, Life, Writing
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