Saturday, December 8, 2012

Self Doubt and Writing



My sister is an artist.

Some of my earliest memories are of her drawing or of people talking about her drawing.

Gifted.

Talented.

Each word used to describe her and each word is absolutely true. Me on the other hand…I can’t draw a stick figure.  

For years, I used to watch my sister about pull her hair out over her work. “It’s not good enough,” she’d say or “It’s not done.”

I would sit back on the couch of our small living room and see nothing but spectacular brilliance. How could she not see the absolute beauty she created when it was right there staring her in the face?

I never got it…until I took my fascination with storytelling and decided to pursue a publishing career.

Last week, I finished revisions for a story and I felt a little stir crazy as I closed out the document. Doubt nagged and chewed at my confidence. My mind raced through all the possible other things I could have done with the storyline, characterization, or plot.

My trusted beta readers and critique partners all told me that it was ready…that they loved the story, but when I would reopen the document, all I saw were things I could have done differently or possibly better.

Let me throw this onto the table: I feel this way with every story I finish and each time I type “The End” I understand my sister.

My book was like her painting; it’s my work of art. While others can appreciate its beauty for what it is, as the artist, I see where I could improve.

And when I made the connection, when I realized I wasn’t appreciating the beauty in front of me, I took a step back and a deep breath.

I love my story. I love my characters and the plot and everything about it. Writers are artists. We use words instead of a paintbrush. I think it’s good that we are always pushing ourselves to be better, but remember to take a step back and congratulate yourself for your accomplishments.

4 comments:

Natalie Aguirre said...

I can only draw stick people too. I totally understand your sister's feelings too. But that's a great idea to take a step back and just celebrate the accomplishment of finishing. Thanks for reminding us to do that.

Kristin Lenz said...

Thanks, Katie. This is so true. Writers are always asking how to know when their work is done, because it never seems done - there's always something to change or improve. I took a drawing class a couple months ago (my first since middle school), and there was a point during one of our projects when my teacher told me to stop. "It's good," she said, "you're going to mess it up if you keep adding to it." The same can be true with writing - I definitely have one manuscript that is overwritten, trying to please not only myself but trying to incorporate everyone else's opinions too.

Colette Ballard said...

You are so right-it's important to appreciate the art of our work instead of always focusing on the flaws! Great post!

Stina Lindenblatt said...

I'm bad at this too. Great idea about celebrating the accomplishment of just finishing the MS. It's so easy to forget that important step.