Self-Doubt--I Think

Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor.

Anne Lamott

The last few weeks have been a struggle. I’ve been suffering a crisis of faith, or confidence or…hell, I don’t know. What I do know is that I’ve been utterly overwhelmed. There were some mornings when I had to force myself to get out of bed, and writing was impossible.

I can’t explain why I feel this way. I just released my first book, and although it isn’t setting the world on fire, it hasn’t instigated any book burnings either. My second project is well under way. The plot outline is complete, leading characters fleshed out, and the first draft is, well, a first draft. Accordingly, I should be riding a wave of momentum, but feel like I’m stuck in the mud.

Maybe this is a form of writer’s block of which I’m unaware. I’ve always viewed writer’s block as not being able to write at all. This feels more like everything I write is wrong. My scenes are flat, at best, my characters incomprehensible. The story that I was so excited about just a month ago has been transformed into an embarrassing mess. It just goes downhill from there. I’m consumed by the notion that I should give up writing and pursue something I’m truly suited for, like being a greeter at Wal-Mart.

I’ve read enough about self-doubt to grasp that the feeling is temporary; at least I understand the theory. It doesn’t feel temporary though. One of my major regrets and the chief source of my uncertainty is that I started the process so late. It seems like every author I meet has a Ph.D. in literature and has been writing since the age of five. It has only been five years since I decided to take up writing, and at my age, I question whether I have enough time left to learn even part of what I need to know to be successful. Ironically, self-doubt delayed my attempt in the first place. It took a major life crisis, along with considerable inner dialogue before I decided to try.

I strive to use that experience as a guide for how to deal with what I’m going through now, but it works only partially. It’s a bit like climbing a mountain and upon reaching the peak; you realize that it was just the first in a range. The next one is steeper and higher as is the one after that, and the one after that, uninterrupted to the horizon. It seems like an apt analogy, so maybe I should ask myself what an individual on such a journey would do then, rest and reflect maybe. Perhaps that is what I should have done after finishing my last project, rather than plunge into the next one, but that would only serve to provoke my “running out of time” anxiety.

I’m not sure what I should do next. Procrastination has become another problem as apprehension causes me to avoid the keyboard. I feel a little like Sisyphus and my only option is to keep pushing that rock, but it’s feeling mighty heavy lately.

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