Books were taunting me.
They’d never taunted me before. Fascinated me, yes. I loved books.
Every writer does, right?
You know the joke, “Never trust a skinny cook.” The same goes for authors …
I’m dubious about writers and authors who don’t like to read.
As a child, I loved the hush of a library. I would enter one of those magical mansions of books, look around in wonder and ask myself, Will I ever be able to read ALL these books?
But the books on my bookshelves, the books on my side tables … they were taunting me.
“We’ve been finished. Completed. Published.”
And I couldn’t even open my own WIP manuscript …
Or at least, I didn’t want to.
The Wake of a Writer’s Conference
Over a week had passed since I’d attended a three-day writer’s conference.
I had been both blessed and inundated by information and material, and was ready to complete the final draft of my manuscript and send it off to a few prospective agents.
I had heard from a friend whose feedback on my book was just what I knew it needed to make it absolutely perfect.
All I had to do was write …
And I couldn’t do it.
I tried opening the document on my computer a couple times, but my mind would fog over. I would close the document, feeling incapable and overwhelmed.
I tried praying.
Tried reading books I loved to fill my heart and soul with great writing in hopes that it would overflow onto my own manuscript.
But mostly, I sat in one corner of the couch and told myself, “I’ll never get this done.”
And from that location, I saw hundreds of books on my bookshelves taunting me in their finished perfection.
My husband found me there one afternoon.
I tried to tell him how I felt. All I managed was, “I feel stuck,” and then the tears poured out. “I can’t do this. I’ll never get it done. I can’t finish this book. Even if I do, no one will want to publish it or take me on as a literary agent.”
Every hopeless comment I could possibly make about my book came out.
And I wasn’t looking for compliments, hoping for my husband to reassure me with just the opposite of what I said.
I was stuck. Completely stuck. I could not write a word.
Any revisions I tried to add only made things worse.
“Don’t write,” he told me.
“Wait, what?” I asked tearfully.
“Just leave it. You’ll know when you’re ready. The words will come. Don’t push yourself.”
I took a deep breath.
The fog seemed to lift. Just knowing that someone was there to support me, someone who wasn’t pushing me or laughing at me, but encouraging me … made all the difference.
The next day, I opened the document again. And I began to write. Within two weeks, I had completed the fifth draft.
Writers and Self-Doubt
Pretty much everyone struggles with self-doubt at some point in time.
Lots of us encounter what we call these days the imposter syndrome, especially when we’re venturing out into new territory – whether it’s as a writer, podcaster, or even a parent.
Writers and other artist-types seem to struggle more than most with these feelings of inferiority and questions about whether they really can produce something worthwhile, something beautiful.
Sometimes we struggle a lot.
And we make the mistakes of tying that thing we are writing or drawing or painting or designing up within our own worth.
We believe that if the book doesn’t get published or the painting doesn’t make it to the gallery, we are the ones who are worthless.
We fail to consider that maybe it’s not the right timing or the right theme for the place we’ve submitted it.
Sometimes (often) we don’t even submit the work or put ourselves out there because of the fear of being rejected.
And I don’t think there’s a perfect and complete cure for this condition … for these fears.
But there are friends. Family. A spouse.
There are encouraging words and thoughts and FB messages.
There’s sitting beside someone sitting on their couch in tears and telling them, “It’ll be okay. You can do this.”
Because you can.
If you need this reminder today, then here it is.
Remember the wondrous gift that writing is …
The wondrous gift that creating is.
Recall that call to let you heart be filled with dreams, and to tell those dreams
… as beatings of the heart of an artist.