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Young Writers Society
What To Do When Doubt Descends
Fri Apr 10, 2009 8:24 pm
It is inevitable. At some point, multiple points, every writer will experience doubt. Either someone will say something derogatory and discouraging, you will be rejected for the twentieth time, or you will encounter more talented peers. I had one of these experiences this week. After sharing two new poems, I thought I saw a smirk. Maybe I was imaging it, projecting my opinion of the inadequacy of the pieces, maybe it really was there, maybe it was intended for someone else, about something else, and I need to let go of my writerly narcissism. The point is, it worried me. I was suddenly convinced that my poetry is useless and juvenile and unpolished, and that I should be writing unrhymed, witty, highly descriptive poems.
However, I am a firm believer in writing from the gut, that is, avoiding cliche, avoiding flowery language if it does not come naturally, not trying to make my poetry into something it's not, because, ultimately, it always comes through if you don't believe what you're writing.
Not everyone will like what you write. Personal taste is a big issue in writing. However, such moments of doubt can stop you writing. In these situations, we have two choices;
1) We can give give up, or we can give in, and try to write what we think others want us to write.
2) We can wallow for a while, and dwell how we're simultaneously talentless and misunderstood, shake it off, and keep going.
If the thought of not writing makes you feel like your throat is closing up, option two is your only option. In that case, write and write, every day, listen to constructive criticism carefully, with an open mind, and then decide for yourself what's best for your piece, practise, practise, polish, polish, and you will be better equipped to deal with doubt when it comes.
"Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I'll rise."
We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.
— T.S. Eliot
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