Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Confidence...where art thou?

You’ve all heard the saying “sometimes you get the bear and sometimes the bear gets you” right? Well, I’m having one of those kind of weeks. I’m battling a bear and he’s not friendly and loveable, and he’s got a bad attitude.

Nothing exactly is wrong. Nothing hideous has occurred, but neither has anything stupendous come to my attention. Most of my writing friends are away at RWA Nationals, my family members are all away on vacation or doing their own thing, my other friends are busy with their own lives, which is fine because the world doesn't revolve around me, but email and Facebook are pretty boring right now.

I'm all alone! :-)

Which for a writer, it should be a good thing. Means I should buckle down and write with no distractions. Right?

I can’t.

It’s quiet. Too quiet.

Which is when my companions Doubt and Panic make a reappearance to undermine my other acquaintance Confidence.

Here’s why. Currently, I’m waiting for word on three manuscripts I’ve got out there in the ambiguous world of submission limbo. I know waiting is part of the game. We’ve all been there. But it’s such a long time. It’s in this waiting where Doubt starts getting restless in the backseat of my mind and says “Are we there yet?” Then his brother Panic wails, “What if I’m not good enough?” What happened to confidence? She’s cowering in the farthest seat of the mind mini-van, totally in denial.

Yeah, I’m there.

Why, you ask? This should be a very exciting time. I’m heading into the homestretch of the historical novel I’ve been working on, I’m dabbling in a contemporary short, and I’m itching to start my next novel. Then there’s the first and second round edits I’ve done for a holiday short releasing in November. Yes, all of this stuff is exciting, the book is going well, I still like my characters and haven’t tried to kill them off just so they wouldn’t bother me anymore…but wait. I can’t help but wonder if the characters have enough motivation, and if they do, is it clear? Is the storyline stupid, maybe too transparent? Does anyone even like my heroine?

This is my problem. Without distractions and constant “background noise” of life and friends with moral support, I see my characters in my head as if they were practicing for a play, holding scripts, staring at me saying, “Why the hell am I doing this? Is there a point? Because I’m not really feeling it.”

Then my Confidence goes “I don’t have any idea.” What happens after that? Doubt and Panic gang up and start throwing popcorn at her, laughing with evil glee. Then she starts thinking about the other books I’ve submitted, wondering if there are fatal flaws in the plot line, goals for the main characters, is there enough conflict, and whether the existing conflict is gripping or believable. Will anyone like to read about an ordinary woman who lives an ordinary life but has a bunch of extra ordinary stuff thrown at her that she’s kinda conflicted about in her own mind until she makes a clear decision about what she wants?

I don’t have any idea.

Yup, quiet times. I don’t really like them so much.

I try my best. I write every day. I do my best to plot out what needs to happen in each of my chapters, I tweak the writing, yank out sections and re-write them, etc. But still I wonder if I’ll ever be good enough. Will my writing ever catch the interest of the writing powers-that-be so I can start making waves instead of ripples in the writing pond? Will my books ever be at a point that I can leave the pond and swim in the ocean?

Again, I don’t have any idea, but I can keeping learning and dream…and hope.

So, fellow writers, what do you do to silence Doubt and Panic? How do you coerce Confidence to come out of hiding? What do you tell yourself in the quiet times when you start, well thinking?

Until I find out, I’ll just keep doing what I do: write.


Rebecca Royce said...

When I have doubt and panic I take a hot bath. I'll be home most of today. We can be alone together. LOL.

Sandra Sookoo said...

LOL Funny, but our bathtub is so tiny, it doesn't lend itself to much relaxation :-)

Barbara J. Hancock said...


Not to be too graphic or personal, but I have at least a week to eight days out of every month when I'm a basketcase of nerves that can't seem to craft a coherent sentence. That week used to derail my confidence for far longer until I began to recognize it for what it was:) Now, I give myself permission to have downtime during those "crazy days". My entire life follows a cycle and that includes my writing!

When doubts plague me at other times, I fall back on what made me love writing in the first place. My favorite books, movies and music will often pull me out of the doldrums if I completely let myself go and submerge myself in them:) As important as it is to keep ourselves focused on word count goals, it's also important to refuel.

Give that bear some honey!! lol

Anonymous said...

Great post.

When I have doubt, I take a step back for the day and reapproach my story the next day, usually refreshed with no doubt in site. If that doesn't work, I write in my notebook which helps me figure out the problem causing the doubt.


Chiron said...

Ah yes, for some it's too quiet, for me it's the noisy times that drive me bonkers!

Taking a shower can help for me. I just let myself focus on the story without worrying about it. My best 'unblocker' is my Freewrite document, where I just put in the date (it's a loooong document, one for each story) and brainstorm. There's something freeing about knowing it doesn't count. *laughs*

When I really need a break, I play my Sims 3 game. *wink* I make HER write books instead. *heh-heh*

Great post! Happy Rejuvenating!

Chiron O'Keefe
The Write Soul:

Z(Aasiyah/Nolwynn) said...

Alone in the house - close the curtains - tug on the PJs - pull hair in ponytail that can end up resembling a strange bird's nest - get a piece of chocolate cake with lots of cream filling - put on DVD of Love Actually or Mamma Mia or any other silly chick flick - sit on couch - and just watch while pigging on cake in absolutely comfy clothes!

Works wonders for me when doubt starts creeping in, or when I just finished a big big project and need some time off.


Sandra Sookoo said...

Thanks everyone for stopping by. I'll have to try some of those suggestions. I don't have writer's block, just a lack of confidence that my work is good enough sometimes :-) But we all can't be JK Rowling, right? Heck, she didn't even start small. Okay, can't think about that.

Anyway, it's a new day so gotta go catch it!

Annie Nicholas said...

Better late than never. On those days I'm feeling less than I am, I look back at my past achievements and give myself a pat on the back.
Sandi, you come here and look at your list of books and covers.

Sandra Sookoo said...

Thanks Annie :-) You're right.