You know you’re a writer when Doubt plagues you so often, you’re reaching a point that you just want to punch Doubt in the jugular and also find some way to use it in a future story. At least, that’s how I’m feeling at the moment, which, in an odd way, proves that despite how often Doubt invades, I can take comfort in the fact that I’ll never stop writing (because only a very stubborn and true writer would decide to turn the very thing that stops her from writing as a form of inspiration in future works).
But even knowing that doesn’t ease the times when Doubt is really raging hard, especially when it comes at you in multiple angles of your life and you succumb, feeling powerless against it all.
I wrote a blog post recently about my life as a Catch-22, which has only gotten more complicated since. Basically, I’ve learned that my part-time job, due to the budget cuts, not only limits my hours, but also changes the hours over the summer, moving them during the day instead of the evenings, while also not scheduling me during breaks when the university is closed, to ensure I don’t go over my 1,000 hour limit cap. So while getting three weeks off in the summer and getting Fall, Spring and part of Winter Break off sounds really lovely, my current financial situation is paycheck-to-paycheck living. I can’t afford those breaks.
Of course, I still plan on getting a second job, but when the hours of my current job fluctuate between evenings during the school year and during the day over half the summer, that really complicates the types of jobs I can apply for. For example, I thought about applying to be a bank teller from 8-5 before my night-shift job, but I couldn’t switch to an evening shift at the bank that closed at five during that odd month in the summer where I work during the day at my part-time job. Yet I’d need to be able to work the most hours at both jobs to make ends meet. So that makes me lean towards retail, but I’m not confident that I could make enough working a retail job to meet the minimum bills I’d obtain after moving out on my own.
Me being me–a stressed-riddled-over-thinker–I didn’t stop there. I stressed about how if I got a 8-5 job on top of my part-time job, I’m looking at a 5:30am wake up call when I’m not a morning person. A day where I started working at 8 and didn’t get off of work until 10, at a different job. Not to mention trying to figure out how to make three portable meals a day to eat, especially once I move out on my own and don’t have my Mom’s leftovers to rely on. Or what about scheduling in workout time, especially because my self-esteem has plummeted in recent months due to my curves and growing tummy?
Realizing all of this got me not only flustering, but doubting myself on an immense scale.
Then, my car broke down while I was on my way to a rare overtime shift.
She’s fixed now, but if I wasn’t down in the dumps then…Let me tell you, sitting in your car that won’t start on the side of the road, bawling your eyes out because that’s your natural reaction to everything, for an hour and a half during five o’clock traffic isn’t exactly the way you want spend your Friday afternoon. Especially because you’re not bawling because you’re stuck on the side of the road. You’re bawling because you desperately wanted that money from that overtime shift. You’re bawling because your slowly building up your savings account from the last time your car needed unexpected–and very costly–repairs, only to have her betray you again, simply because she’s 15 years old and that’s the best you could afford two years ago when you got her; and you’re not in a better spot now to upgrade, either, without tightening your wallet even more suffocatingly. You’re bawling because you have to commute to work and you seriously can’t handle the stress of trying to find, let alone afford, another car at the moment. You’re bawling because things are hard right now and you’re doubting everything.
Normally, when I’m down, I try to escape by leaving reality for a bit, whether it is through gaming or reading or writing. I “leave” and deal with other people’s problems, which are always so much greater than mine, yet easier to solve. While gaming, I just kill things and relieve stress; while reading, they have to figure it out, not me; and while writing, my characters have to figure it out (though sometimes, that actually does fall on me). Regardless, it is refreshing and relaxing and oddly empowering. So, naturally, when this was all going down, I turned to writing as an escape and tried to work on my current project, only to be even further discouraged. Doubt had found me there, too, even though I started a new project with fresh ideas, different characters and new twists from my previous trilogy.
Your story doesn’t have enough meat to it. It’s going to be too short. Nothing even happens in it. There isn’t enough action. You’re not smart enough to write science fiction. Sure, it’s expanding to now include an unplanned-sequel, but that doesn’t matter, because no one is going to read the first one. Look how well your first series worked out.
I mean, damn, Doubt can be a bitch.
I’ve always had these thoughts concerning my writing, though I usually fight through it and keep writing, regardless of what the voices say. I’ve doubted my precious trilogy numerous times, yet that didn’t make completing it taste any less sweet. Perhaps the exact opposite, actually. I hoped, trying a new vein and starting a new story, set in a dying world with some political commentary and technology I’m not familiar with–but excited to learn about–that Doubt wouldn’t be so quick to invade. Especially as I’ve been dealing with so much doubt regarding my career, my finances and my independence in my real life (not to mention the constant doubt surrounding my body image and unyielding single status). Writing is where I am meant to escape doubt, not be plagued by it so deeply that it took days for me to get a single scene written, my mood never elevating like it usually does after a writing session.
Here’s the thing. Here’s the hard truth: this is life. I’m a 23 year old young “professional” who just graduated college and is still trying to figure out how to adult. Finances are going to be hard to figure out. Adjusting to the adult life is going to be hard; stressful; tear-inducing. Doubt is a demon that has always plagued me. Yet, in that same vein, doubt is the demon I’ve always slain. It’s a part of life. It’s part of growing, a part of learning and a part of prevailing. Even with writing–my sacred, sacred craft and passion–doubt is not banned there. But neither is it eternal.
Amidst this past weekend where I’ve felt like everything is falling apart and I can’t keep myself together long enough to survive it, I worked 10 hours of overtime. My car got fixed. My parents were supportive, both financially and emotionally. The weather was beautiful. I came out with a new workout motivator that I will hopefully start using (soon). I got past that scene I dragged through and am in the middle of writing a new scene that makes it easy to push out the Doubt that nags at me; a scene that, instead, makes me want to point a certain bird at Doubt and claim, “This shit is gold.” I’m in the middle of a book–it nears closer and closer to the end and I am not ready–that constantly makes my own problems seem pale and increases the risk of me being late to work each day as I try to slip in another chapter. Life is good.
Life is also stressful. Life is hard. The demons of doubt surround, engulf, suffocate. Yet they need to be there. They need to be experienced. Because then that same doubt can be learned from and, eventually, overcome, in one form or another. Don’t give into doubt but don’t ignore it, either. Instead, stay positive, focus on what makes you happy in life and strive to find more things to increase that happiness. Fight your battles and know when you need a break. But never give up. I got this. You got this. Lets slay some demons.