Monday, 16 June 2014

Kick Self-doubt into Touch


I had a lovely email from a lady called Nicola recently telling me that she liked one of my stories in Fiction Feast (always a lovely thing to read). It's great to have correspondence with people who have found my blog useful or inspirational and so I was pleased to hear how a recent assignment of hers has been deemed ready for publication. Despite this success, though, Nicola told me she had been hitting walls of self doubt and asked for some advice.

The odd thing was that while thinking about my reply I saw a Facebook post that was so inspirational in itself that I just had to ask the owner of that quote, Tim Bowler, if I could use it on my blog - to help others who are grappling with their gremlins.

Here it is:

I've always found self-doubt a strange nomadic creature: a kind of hobo who pitches his tent outside the back door and never quite moves on. Even when the muse turns up on time, he's whittling a stick nearby, yet I'm deeply fond of him and always have been. He may be a little unwashed and he certainly eats too much of my food, but he has virtues. He grounds me, challenges me, makes me fight for my story. So, welcome, friend, stay as long as you want. You make me stronger.

Although Tim is a Facebook Friend, I didn't know anything about him as a writer but his words were so powerful that I knew he must be good so I popped over to his website to find out more about him only to find this:

Tim has written twenty books for teenagers and won fifteen awards, including the prestigious Carnegie Medal. He has been described by the Sunday Telegraph as ‘the master of the psychological thriller’ and by the Independent as ‘one of the truly individual voices in British teenage fiction’. His books have sold over a million copies worldwide.

So now I'm a bit embarrassed that I didn't know who he was... Sorry Tim!

But your words have hopefully helped Nicola and they'll certainly help me next time self doubt creeps in.

38 comments:

  1. I think there are just too many hobos camped outside my door at the moment, Wendy...

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  2. We need a balance don't we, between self doubt and the kind of excessive confidence that could make us submit work before it was ready and give us unrealistic hopes for success which would leave us crushed by the first rejection.

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    1. Yes you're right - it is an art getting the balance right, Patsy.

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  3. Self doubt sits with me all day. Even though I've had over 100 stories published and two serials I consider him/her to be a malevolent spirit. I may look at him/her differently from now on. Leonora Francis

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    1. I don't think it matters how successful you are (look at Tim), self-doubt is always lurking, isn't it.

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    2. That's true Wendy, but being a lone writer and not being in any groups or having a buddy, I assumed I was the only one who suffered from it, lol

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    3. Leonora Francis - Are you kidding? I LOVE, I repeat LOVE your stories. x

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    4. Oh, thank you Jacula. Honestly, self doubt sits with me all the livelong day. This post has certainly put it all into perspective - so, get on with sending your work out there so I can read your stories too! (Thanks Wendy and Tim)

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    5. Sorry to but in, but I have to agree with Jacula - Leonora I am always so pleased to see your name in the magazines - I LOVE your stories too x

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    6. Well, Jacula and Teresa, you have both made my day. Thank you so much x

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    7. Love your stories too Leonora. x

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  4. What a wonderful paragraph by Tim. Up-lifting as well as inpsiring. And a big thank you to you, Wendy for your words of wisdom. So glad I shared! Now, I'm on the hunt for that MUSE people keep talking about :)

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    1. ...and thank you for your lovely email, Nicola - the inspiration behind this post.

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  5. It's interesting how we all deal with the problem of doubt. For some it can make them grow strong while others it floors them. I see doubt as a way of making me fight, to grow strong but asking myself, if other can then why not me.
    What is stopping me when people like Stephen King, J K Rowling and many other well-known writer all felt the same too.
    They all had to start somewhere, just like us.

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    1. I think you're right Paula - we all suffer form it.

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  6. Think most writers I know have this hobo camping nearby. It's a question of using him to galvanise rather than paralyse, I think. Best wishes to Wendy and all her blog followers. Tim Bowler

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    1. Thank you. Tim, for your great insight into this topic and for allowing me to use your quote. I shall make sure I introduce my grandson to your books when he's old enough.

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  7. Thank you for sharing these words of wisdom Tim and Wendy. I am very familiar with that hobo - he often stands by my bed and night and he's always looking over my shoulder. I shall try to look at him in a more positive light from now on :-) x

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  8. Very wise words - I'm adopting them too :o)

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  9. Thank you, Wendy, for sharing this.

    If we could only try to merge our confident self with our doubting self, any overlap would be the perfect mix.

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    1. I bet very few writers manage it, Joanna.

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  10. I have so many stories I haven't subbed yet due to thinking they're cr*p and just my daft ramblings. I never used to have this self-doubt when I had poetry and articles published so why am I punishing myself when trying to do the thing I love most, which is telling stories?

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    1. If only we had the answer to that question, Jackie.

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  11. As Patsy says above, a measure of self doubt is healthy. It pushes you to be better. It's only a bad thing when it becomes crippling and makes you give up on things before you've even started. Galvanise, Tim, galvanise!

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    1. We'll bolt the food and let the little hobo peer through the letter box, Joanne.

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  12. Wendy, I really like that quote. Thanks for sharing. I'm coming to the end of my online writing course and we have been reviewing each other's stories. Some people are arrogant, others modest, most of us somewhere in between; but there are many who have no faith in their abilities at all, which is a shame, because they often have some of the best ideas. What strange creatures we are.

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    1. There were Ll sorts on my online writing course too, Julie.

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  13. Love the post, Wendy - and thanks to Tim for his quote! Perhaps we all need a little self-doubt to make keep striving to be better.

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  14. Love this quote by Tim and thanks for sharing, Wendy. Self-doubt sadly is always camped on a writer's doorstep, but I shall now think of it like the 'littlest hobo' and maybe invite it in for a cuddle. (Did you used to watch the TV series?)

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    1. It sounds a little like one of your stories, Tracy!

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  15. What a fantastic post Wendy and how reassuring - and comforting - to hear from people who write the most amazing stories that they are plagued by self doubt too. It's with all of us isn't it?
    I have a rejection letter from TPFencouraging me to keep submitting to them, though, as 'they thought I had the feel of their stories.' Unfortunately that lovely lady left. That was in 2001 and I've been submitting to them ever since. Self-doubt? How many times did I nearly quit writing all together? Now I have three acceptances from TPF - the first last year - but it took me all that time. If there's one thing I've learned over the years, however much you doubt yourself, it's keep submitting and never, ever give up.:o) xx

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    1. How wondrful to have kept that letter and great to hear that your stories were eventually accepted ( albeit many years later). Just shows that original editor was right. It just takes one special editor to believe in you... My PF ed is so encouraging.

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  16. I didn't know Tim either, but thanks for letting us know a little about him. How definitely have to look him up. And you are right – great quote.
    Deb@ http://debioneille.blogspot.com

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