If there’s anything that weighs freelance writers down more than others, it’s self-doubt. Procrastination may be the mother of failures, but lack of belief in one’s abilities is the ultimate dream killer.
“Our doubts are traitors, and make us lose the good we oft might win, by fearing to attempt.” – William Shakespeare
Writing had been one of those things I enjoyed doing ever since I was a kid, but growing up, I always had this nagging voice inside my head that told me I wasn’t good enough.
The rise of the new millennium was, I guess, the rise of that insistent writer in me, that indomitable little spirit that somehow hadn’t been crushed by the massive and looming and ever-lingering doubting Thomas inside my head.
In the early 2000s, I fell sick and had to be aggressively treated. Because of my condition, I was confined to the home. I had to leave my job, which had then felt like a sucker punch to the solar plexus. I was a young wife, a new mother and a complete alien to the utter helplessness that washed over me in a heartbeat.
Add to that the mounting medical bills, I had to find something – anything – to help with the financial obligations.
At that time, a local publishing house was looking for fiction writers. I had no experience writing fiction, except for the fiction-writing contests I’ve joined during my student days. But because it was all I could do, I grabbed the chance, went right ahead and started pounding the keyboard to come up with a 24,000-word mini novel in time for a writing workshop.
The novel went nowhere, as expected. But that workshop started me writing for two other local publishing houses as well.
Necessity isn’t just the mother of invention. My experience taught me that necessity, too, is the mother of awakenings. It took me many years to finally allow my passion for writing to the fore.
- Will you allow that same number of years to separate you from doing what you want because of self-doubt?
- Will you wait to be backed in a corner before you start believing in yourself? Mind you, unfortunate situations do not always tend to bring out the best in people.
The next hurdle to clear
Fiction writing might had been like a salve to soothe my broken spirit, especially when I needed it most, but it wasn’t enough to help pay the bills. The moment I was cleared fit for employment, I set out to once again join the workforce.
But every time I passed by the building that housed the publication company that turned the wheels for me, I couldn’t help but look back until it was no more.
Recommended reading: 4 Common Barriers to Writing and How to Conquer Them
In the silence of my deepest musings, I know, once a writer, always a writer.
In the middle of 2011, a friend and former colleague introduced me to the world of blogging. Once again, self-doubt grabbed me by the ankle and hindered any hint of progress.
100% Asian, English isn’t my mother tongue. But somehow, my friend convinced me it was time to start a blog, if only to polish my English writing skills.
Thereafter, in 2012, I started freelance web writing and haven’t looked back since. It may not be my bread-and-butter, but it’s shaping out to be a good source of side income.
I’m not saying I don’t doubt myself anymore. Being my worst critic, I still do, and probably will for the rest of my days. What I’m saying is, the same way courage is not the absence of fear, confidence is not the absence of self-doubt.
My introspection has gotten me to believe that the reason I doubt my abilities is because I fear I won’t live up to expectations, that I’m not as good as other writers.
But along the way, I’ve come to accept that I am me, and nobody can fault me for being the writer I am. Self-doubt is not something that’s bound to leave me for good, but it’s something I can live with, something I can accept as part and parcel of who I am.
Self-doubt, however, is not going to be the definition of me. I’d rather that my definition be determination, dogged determination despite insurmountable odds.
How about you? What will your definition be?
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