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My writing demons have returned. Or have they?
You see, the last couple months have been chock full of ducks, which gave my writing demons the perfect opportunity to swoop in and wreak havoc. And swoop and wreak they did, or so it appeared. Here's what happened:
In the midst of a very chaotic summer, I sent my current work-in-progress out to "beta readers" as a sanity check of sorts before I submit the manuscript to two agents who requested it. When I sent it to the beta readers I felt pretty dang good about it. I knew it wasn't perfect, but I was spitting in the face of my perfectionist demon (sorry, Harpy), feeling confident the story and the writing were good. Perhaps even "good enough."
Then came back-to-school chaos, and I was so wrapped up taking care of ducks,
I wasn't thinking about demons at all. I let my guard down. That's when I received the critiques from my beta readers.
As an unpublished writer, even when my guard is UP I have a permanent chink in my armor where demons can slip in: I'm already always asking myself
"Am I good enough?"
This is the part of the story where the demons swoop in.
Even though most of the beta readers' feedback was positive, a few tiny criticisms snowballed in my psyche.
I began to feel like the manuscript SUCKED. Like the problems were insurmountable: too many, too varied, too widespread, too inherent--take your pick. I became certain I'd never be able to fix them. My story would never be
"good enough," much less perfect. I could work for several more years on this book and still not even be close.
"What's the use?" I thought. And I stopped working on my manuscript.
After some wallowing I began to suspect I'd been victim to a sneak attack by the Demon Triumvirate:
Insidious Sam (the demon of worry), Kakorr (the demon of fear), and Aunt Fay (the demon houseguest of fatalism).
So who's been sabotaging my manuscript submission efforts?
Allow me to introduce Thomas, the demon of self-doubt.
Thomas is not exactly a new demon. It's not like I've never felt self-doubt before. It's just that he's usually accompanied by a hoard of other demons who mask his appearance.
Take Worry, for example. Self-doubt can often be an underlying element of worry. Same for Fear, Fatalism, Perfectionism. Even Procrastination and Distraction can have roots in self-doubt.
When he's not lurking in the shadow of another demon, Thomas usually reveals himself by whispering subtle, seemingly helpful warnings:
Don't wear that -- people will ridicule you.
Better not go on stage -- you'll trip, say something stupid, or otherwise make a fool of yourself.
You shouldn't write that -- it makes you sound naive and dumb.
For goodness' sake, don't submit your manuscript to an agent -- you'll be a laughing stock.
Getting published? Forget about it. Everyone will know you're a hack and a fraud.
I've tried cigars, coffee, calamine lotion, reggae music, advice from my mentor, unplugging the phone, Post-It Notes, antacids, duct tape, dreamcatchers, nightlights, chamomile tea, and sticking my fingers in my ears. But none of these trusted demon-defenses work on Thomas.
Unless Bruce Willis is available to babysit me for the weekend, I'm at a serious loss.
Please help me out here--
What do you use to banish self-doubt?