Friday, May 27, 2016 | By: Lisa LaMendola

How to Crush Writer's Doubt

There is this cool guy named Bryan with this cool idea about getting past procrastination and crushing what he calls 'writer's doubt.' His concept is that all writer's have their doubts but with the right tools anyone can be a writer.  This writer thoroughly agrees.

Of course the biggest obstacle a writer encounters is the dreaded writers block.  Staring at a blank page with nothing to say and the clock ticking.  So why does this happen?  What is 'writer's doubt'?

For me it's not being clear about what I am going to put on paper.  Either I don't know the subject well enough, which means I need more research; or I'm trying to write about something that's hitting to close to home.  The second is much more common in my circles as a writer, because we all know that what comes out of our hearts and souls are more moving than anything else we could write.  In fact, there is a piece of each writer in everything written.  How could it not?

So the first thing I do when writer's doubt creeps in is switch gears.  I could go to another project for a short time, but instead I open a new document on my laptop and write down all my excuses!  Yes they are just excuses haunting me by my fears, and those fears were created by me and only me, and can be squashed just as quickly as they were created.

A little trick that helps me most often is to pull out a blank sheet of paper and write down all the thoughts going through my head.  I title the page "Excessive Thoughts" and date it.  Then I just write everything that comes to mind no matter what it is.  In about 20 minutes I should have it all done so I can get back to work. I don't go back and read the list until the next day (before I start my day). This neat little trick helps me unload all the thoughts in my head so that I can make room for the thoughts I need to write my copywriting project or that great novel I'm working on.  As an added bonus I also get some great ideas for future writing projects.

Another thing I do often to keep the doubts from finding me is to read.  I read material by other copywriters in my field (or the pet industry in general) or books written similar to whatever novel I'm currently working on.  This helps me in several ways.  When I read another novelist and then re-read part of my own novel, one of two things will happen.  I will either see how much better my novel is, or I will see things to change in my novel moving forward.  Or get a great idea for the next chapter or section of my book.  Often when I'm reading other copywriter's work I see how I can change it, make it better or put a different spin on it.  These things help me get past the hurdle of the dreaded blank page and possibly come up with something even better than I had planned on writing.

Of course there is the still the slightest chance that this might not be enough for me.  If I'm no longer doubting my life as a writer, but still staring at a blank page, what do I do now?  Sit there staring at the page until suddenly something comes out?  Hardly...

The best thing to free myself from writer's block is to get up and walk away.  Do something else. Something that doesn't take much time away from my work, but enough to time to release the dreaded doubt, because that's what writer's block is.  The writer doubting him or herself.

Will it be good enough? Will it be funny?  Will it be smart?  Will it get me the job?  Whatever "it" is you are dreading.  Not because your a bad writer, because you are a good one.  It's that you put too much pressure on yourself and in turn you create unnecessary fear.

We writers think the next thing we do must be better than the last one, but is that necessarily true?  As a copywriter, my work needs to be the best for the client I am working with; not better than the last client I worked with.  Granted I would like my work to continually improve and my words to flow easier, but that comes with experience.  So why do we get so stuck, and how can we crush it when it happens?

The reason we procrastinate in the first place is because we are fearing something, and to remove the fear is to remove the doubt.  Sometimes its not even doubt, its hunger or a need to clear one's head.  Personally I have three additional doubt crushers that I use.  I use which ever one seems to call to me at that particular time.  My first doubt crusher is to get up and go for a walk.  Not a jog, not a run, not to the store, but a short 15 minute walk with my service dog Sam. Nine times out of ten this works the best for me, breathing the fresh air and getting some sun on my face. Allowing my brain to focus on what's going on around me instead inside on my desk. But what if its raining?

That brings me to my second crusher, food.  A piece of fruit, chocolate, cheese and crackers, or even a fresh cup of coffee can give me the energy I didn't realize I was missing, helping my brain fog to clear. Writer's don't realize how much energy they exert bringing the emotions they write about to the blank page, so we tend to eat less thinking we are more sedentary than others.  The truth is we can exert enough energy in three hours of constant writing to fuel a car for a week if we are that excited about what is coming through our imagination and onto the paper.

Now for my third doubt crusher.  This takes a little more time and bit more effort if you've never tried it before. Its called meditation.  I'm not talking about putting on the OM CD and chanting for 15 minutes, that's a little more stimulation than a writer in doubt needs.  I'm talking about the traditional Buddhist meditation that consists of focusing on your breath.  Feel your breath in, then out; breath in, then out; and so on.  While you might think that this is the most difficult doubt crusher to do its actually the easiest, because it only involves moving from my office desk to the couch (or floor cushion) and closing my eyes and counting my breaths. Once I have focused on my breath for 10 repetitions, my mind clears and suddenly inspiration sores. That's why this is my most beneficial tool. It gives me a clear head which in turn gives me new and creative ideas that I never would have thought about otherwise.  Go ahead, give it a try and tell me how it works for you.

I'm sure you can come up with some great ways to crush writer's doubt by yourself, just be sure that it takes minimal time and doesn't over stimulate your mind.  Otherwise, you'll be off thinking about other things going on in your life and never get back to the task at hand or that great novel your writing.

So what if you do all three and you just can't get started?  Then it's time to call it quits...for several hours or even the day.  Take a drive, go for a run, call your mom, go out to lunch, anything that isn't necessary but enjoyable.  By not rushing to do your personal to-do-list and enjoying the day, you allow yourself to have a brain break and the places you go and the people you meet can in turn inspire you even more, pulling you back to the computer once more.

This article was written for “ Writers Crushing Doubt Writing Contest ” via Positive Click here to learn more about Bryan's work and this contest.


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