Lesson 9: You have to have faith


English: A stereotypical caricature of a villa...
English: A stereotypical caricature of a villain (i.e. generic melodrama villain stock character, with handlebar moustache and black top-hat). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’d like you to meet the number one enemy of writers, actually, it’s the enemy of everyone, but writers and artists fight it continuously with every word written or brush of paint/pencil.  This villain’s name is:

Self-Doubt. *dun, dun, dun!*

This dastardly villain whispers in our head, gaining strength over time as s/he plays with our dreams.  Fear, hesitation, the wringing of the hands are all symptoms of the claws this villain sinks into us.  We break into a nervous sweat when we try something – anything – that could help us follow lesson 8 of keep moving forward.

Yes, for me he is a dastardly fellow, a serial killer of self-confidence.  I call him Vicente, Maxie, and Markov.  For me, he is the source of all the antagonists in my stories because he is the best example.  The villain who seems reasonable, easy to relate to, believable.

It doesn’t help that his minions take little bites out of us in the form of rejection letters*, negative feedback for no reason but to hurt instead of help, even the blank looks on faces when you tell them you’re a writer.  Like it isn’t a real profession.

When confronting this master mind killer there is only one defense, one weapon that sadly is only partially effective.

Faith… in ourselves.  We have to believe we can do it, that we’re meant to do it.  We’ll stumble, fall, even jump off a cliff, but with faith we are able to get back up, hold onto the ledge, and take another step then another until we’re at a run trying to put distance between us and our villain.

The difficulty, unfortunately, is that we can never escape the bastard.  Doubt, on its own, is useful because it can keep us from being stupid and rash as long as it doesn’t overpower us.  It’s a fine line, an uneasy truce…

Yeah, I think I’ve taken the analogy a bit far on this one, but hell, it was fun.  When it comes down to it, the hardest part of following any passion be it as a writer, artist, computer programmer, even the guys that jump out of perfectly safe air planes is that when we doubt ourselves in asking if we can do it, we hurt ourselves.  The sad part is that we can’t help it.  It’s also hard to recognize that it is a source of doubt of the activity/item/situation or doubt of our capabilities.

I was raised to believe I can do anything I want to do if I’m willing to put in the effort and time to do it.  Considering how long I’ve been writing, I’m pretty sure that writing fulfills this category.  Yet, despite myself, I question myself.  Am I as talented as I think I am?  Do I have the skills I believe I do?  Or am I deluding myself?

The problem is that any answer is subjective.  Person A could love my writing and say, “oh, you’re talented and skilled!”  Person B, on the other hand could hate it and say, “don’t give up your day job.”

At this point, the only thing we can do in my opinion is to have faith in ourselves.  To believe that we have the ability, talent, and skill.  The level of each varies and changes depending on the person.  It doesn’t matter too much in my opinion because if we can honestly evaluate ourselves minus the ego (I know, I’m asking the impossible, but we can do it!) then we can face our villain and turn the tables on him/her.

We can say to them:

“Keep talking!  It won’t matter because I have faith that I’ll make it one way or another.  It may not match my dreams, but it will happen so I’ll listen, but I won’t believe you anymore!”

*I’m not saying the source of rejection letters is negative or villainous by any means, I know Agents, Publishers, Contest judges, and Magazines are a busy group and can’t accept everyone if they wanted, however it still digs into our confidence…

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