1. kneeswrites
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    kneeswrites Member

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    Overcoming self-doubt

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by kneeswrites, Jun 20, 2015.

    Hey everybodyyy. I joined this forum years ago and I have lurked from time to time and I really need to get back into my writing since it's the only thing I like to do. I guess I'll post an intro or something just to do it right or whatever.

    Anyway, I have been struggling with drug addiction and depression since 2009 and I'm finally kind of coming out of it. It started getting better when my daughter was born in 2013, but I haven't written a damn thing in so long and now I'm afraid of it. I've spent so much time criticizing authors and now I'm paranoid that I'm secretly a horrible, horrible writer, and will never finish a book, and I am just so swamped by this crap.

    Writing is my only hobby, or passion, and I am just so afraid of sucking. And thanks to the fun side effects of depression it's hard to feel inspired. All of my previous stories have just kind of fizzled and died, and I've gotten preoccupied with making sure my stories are socially conscious as well as, you know, good.

    Ugh it takes so much energy to put myself out there. People terrify me, but I'm pushing myself because I'm never going to accomplish anything in life if I'm not writing books.

    This is a horrible jumbled post. I'm sorry. I'm pregnant and tired. I hope I am posting this in the right area and such.

    I guess my purpose in posting this is just to ask you guys if you have struggled with bouts like this, struggled to balance your writing with mental illness, and how did you begin to overcome it? How do you stop hating yourself and comparing yourself to others and thinking that your story ideas are horribly unoriginal? Or am I alone? That would suck.


    And how do you let an idea go? I've been writing this huge epic fantasy in my head for ten years and the characters are almost a part of me but the story just never seems to work. I have tried to just scrap it all and start fresh but remnants of my story always find their way into the new one. I wonder if that would be better as a separate thread. Another day.
     
  2. No-Name Slob
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    No-Name Slob Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Oh yeah, for sure. I don't overcome it, I let it overcome me (ETA: I sound like a total douche here). I dunno, I feel like I write better when I'm depressed. But yes, it can be hard to become motivated. When I do, I sit for hours.

    I've considered taking antidepressants, but I'm concerned that they'll mess with my current state. I dunno, it's stupid.

    I've never struggled with addiction, but many of my family members have. It seems it stems from their depression. Have you tried taking any kind of antidepressant?
     
  3. Sundowner
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    Sundowner Member

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    I'm a practical person. I may think something I've written probably isn't amazing or groundbreaking, but it certainly can't teeter on outright sucking. At worse, it can just be mediocre, but not totally unacceptable. Though, if something actually is unacceptable to me, I'll rewrite that part. I may rewrite it once, or maybe I'll do it a few times, but every iteration is better than the last, and eventually I'll be satisfied with it.

    I have a mood disorder (undiagnosed, but not strictly bipolarity, according to the doc), so I'll get bouts of depression where I question the quality of my work, and if I managed to force myself to work, I'll push out like, a single sentence or paragraph before getting bored and doing something else. If I really want to get work done, I'll force myself to write an entire section/scene/chapter. Writing one good paragraph motivates me to write another, and before I know it I've reached my goal. But most importantly, just don't stress yourself about it. Think of writing as a reward in itself, not work that leads to a reward.

    I suggest you don't let your ideas die. I had an idea for a story once, I didn't know how I would make it a book, but I tried. It... didn't work. But I kept thinking about it anyway, constantly redoing the idea, changing out plot points and climaxes. Eventually I actually did rework the idea into something usable, and I'm writing it right now. I think any idea is usable if you give it enough of a chance.
     
  4. No-Name Slob
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    No-Name Slob Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Wow. You're me + a penis.
     
  5. No-Name Slob
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    No-Name Slob Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    I mean ... erm ... inappropriate.

    I plead Friday night, please.
     
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  6. kneeswrites
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    kneeswrites Member

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    I never thought of using it as a tool. It's the dead, apathetic kind of depression mostly as opposed to the sad kind, which is far more useful for writing. But maybe I could churn out some crap about a psychopath or something. Use the lack of emotion to create something, at least just to be writing.
     
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  7. No-Name Slob
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    No-Name Slob Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    That's what mine's like, too. I dunno that there really is a sad type. Is there? No, I describe mine as "disconnected from happiness."

    I still write better, though. But maybe it's because of the genre I prefer.
     
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  8. kneeswrites
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    kneeswrites Member

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    I sometimes go through periods where I'm just horribly sad all the time and I hate myself and want to die and I actually prefer that to the numb kind, just because I like to feel things. And I can channel sadness into writing, yknow? It's so hard to make yourself do something when your brain is just like "Nope, you're tired, you want to sleep. You also suck at writing so there's that."
     
  9. No-Name Slob
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    No-Name Slob Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Yep. I have an accountability partner, and we give each other deadlines. It only helps in the sense that I will complete them just barely before they're due. :)
     
  10. Sundowner
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    Sundowner Member

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    Well, I doubt it'll help any, but I don't allow myself to get that sad. I get mad. I get mad at myself and my own inability, I get mad at the world for doubting me, and it causes me to build up the desire to show everyone, anyone that I'm more capable than them. It's a great motivator. Sometimes I tell myself to write just to defy someone specific, and it feels great. I love doing things that piss people off.
     
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  11. drifter265
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    drifter265 Banned

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    I feel like I could have easily written this, wow. I also feel the same way. I don't know what to tell you. I'm working on an outline now of a series I've been writing for three years and every time I'm halfway into it, like right now, I start doubting myself and whether my idea is good or original or not. It happens every time. But I keep going. Not because of some passion or that I like writing or that it's a compulsion but because, I feel, without this story, without writing it, I'm not anything in this world and I don't have any worth and that I should just kill myself; my life literally is that uneventful, boring and depressing; that the only reason I don't kill myself is because I tell myself, "I have to write this story; it's me." But I'm also writing a fantasy and a "what the hell was I thinking" kind of story.
     
  12. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    People with treatable depression often self-medicate with alcohol or street drugs. Antidepressants are much improved these days, have you considered an SSRI instead of other mind-numbing options?

    I speak from experience and a long family history of using the mind-numbing options. I prefer the SSRIs.

    As for the writing, I say consider developing the epic and if you don't use it, why would you mind using pieces of it to grow another? I fail to see the problem.
     
  13. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    I think some of this self-doubt derives from us expecting three things:

    + We're going to get it right the first time.

    + Our first draft is going to be the next biggest thing since Stephen King or JK Rowling.

    + Our first draft will define the literary genre as we know it.

    While this is a commendable goal, and yes we want our story to be at least readable and well-structured, it's sort of being too harsh on yourself, I guess? I read this comic once, long ago, where it basically compared the first draft of a story to an infant learning how to talk. No sane, decent person is going to verbally bash the infant for not speaking with perfect grammar and syntax right off the bat. Or say the infant sucks and not worth anything. No, you keep going; you help them. You're patient with them. This is what the first draft is.

    I know it's easier said than done (I have Generalized Anxiety Disorder and it's got its talons firmly clamped down onto my creativity), and I know it's probably insulting if I say, "Just don't be so hard on yourself". This is just what I've observed about self-doubt over the recent months.
     
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  14. ladybird
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    ladybird Contributing Member

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    A huge epic fantasy! No wonder you're in a spin. Why not manage your expectations and start with short stories and build your confidence from there? You can still get these published through various channels and if they are good enough even get paid for them :) IF there is a workshop forum here that is not visible to the search engines you could also ask for crit before you submit them.

    Very few problems are insurmountable if you are prepared to be flexible and don't always charge at them head on.
     
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  15. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    All writers doubt themselves. It's pretty much part of becoming a writer. If you want to read about a great writer's experience with self-doubt, check out Kafka's Diaries. It gives some great insight into why he didn't publish as much during his life and why he felt he was inadequate as an artist.

    To address your question about comparing myself to other writers, I'll point out that I used to compare myself to great writers all the time when I was younger. Truth be told, this was probably the source of most of my self-doubt. It's easy to forget that these great writers spent years and years honing their craft. It's also easy to forget that some writers produce their best work later in life. Everyone's circumstances are different, so comparing yourself to others is not only harmful but pointless as well. This is something all aspiring writers have to accept at some point in their lives. I know it's easier said than done, but as I said before, all writers doubt themselves. So you aren't alone in this.
     
  16. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    Have some minor successes. Write some 'small' stuff. Some flash fiction, a short story. Post it for feedback. Once you get the feedback - polish it. Most writers feel totally inadequate looking at their first draft. They feel panicky and horrible like a failure. But it's a little like looking at an oil paintings first layer. A person who doesn't understand art could say - well it's crap, don't quit your day job, but the artist knows it's not finished. You have to get to that realization. Nobody paints the Mona Lisa in one layer - first go.

    As for originality - be okay with familiar tropes, and familiar plots - the secret to being original is in the writing not in the idea.
     
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  17. EmptySoul
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    EmptySoul Active Member

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    Personally, I just accept my ideas are unoriginal, uninspired, and any other "un - word" you can think of and I write anyway. Once you give up trying to be good, you are free to actually write. From there, you can eventually start to just enjoy the journey.
     
  18. kneeswrites
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    Oh man I'm so glad I posted this. You all are incredibly helpful. I definitely think a problem I have is all through my childhood I had teachers tell me how great my writing was, and because I had no perspective I compared my writing to the best authors and of course always fell short, so it was always this weird juxtaposition of being told I was great and then thinking that meant I had to be as good as published authors. Also my family has it in their heads that I'm going to write some amazing fantastic series that will make us all rich and I'm just over here like "You guys have extremely unrealistic expectations for me" and so I feel like if I write something crappy it's letting them all down. Which makes me just not write!

    I originally started my fantasy story because I hated the Eragon series and I was 15 and I was like "Look I can write a book!" Which lol didn't happen. And it's evolved from a bad LOTR to this weird urban fantasy thing that is nothing like the original. My characters are so important to me that I'm afraid to write it because I know my first works will suck and I don't want it to suck, yknow?

    Oh and in terms of medication, I haven't had insurance for a while but I get it for free because of the fetus within me and my first appointment is next week, so I'll be asking about it then. I definitely self medicate(d), I never got high for fun. It was just to feel like a human. Which is a sucky addiction to try to get over.

    Thank you guys so much for your responses. Seriously.
     
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  19. EmptySoul
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    EmptySoul Active Member

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    Well don't forget with the forums you never have to deal with writing issues alone.
     
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  20. Hubardo
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    Hubardo Contributing Member Contributor

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    I just went running. When I got home I was like I HAVE ALL THE BEST WRITING IDEAS AND I'M GONNA DO THEM.

    Exercise really helps me with self doubt.
     
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  21. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    This thread is on a roll!
     
  22. sashawrites
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    just thought I'd jump in and say I understand.

    I used writing as a form of therapy. I still do, it distracts my mind. As a part of my recovery my nurse told me to take up a hobby, a positive one for mindfulness. Along with meds it really does keep your mind distracted and helps a hell of a lot. You just have to find stuff to write about, even if you blog or something.

    Also, boo to low self esteem. You can write this. Don't give two craps about others, I did and it made me ill. Life's too short to stop what you want to do. You literally have to turn round and say no to it.
     
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  23. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    Exactly. Don't waste a moment's thought on all the bullcrap reasons why you shouldn't write. Do what you want to do, don't worry about the rest.
     
  24. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    Or H.P. Lovecraft. He was crazy self-deprecating. His Call of Cthulhu, one of the horror genre's short story masterpieces he once called essentially waste paper he wish he never wrote.
     
  25. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    [double post]
     
  26. The Mad Regent
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    The Mad Regent Contributing Member

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    You're such a treasure trove of literary knowledge. ;)

    You remind me of my old English Lit tutor from college; he used to come out with all kinds of interesting and historical facts as well.
     
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