Monday, April 22, 2013

What Sylvia Plath Said: Self-Doubt


By JccKeith

“The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.” – Sylvia Plath
Truer words were never spoken.  I know very few people who create who do not suffer from bouts with self doubt.  There is that moment after you create something where you feel ecstatic.  It feels great to complete a project.  It feels significant.  There is a brief moment where you stand back and marvel at your creation.  You smile, you nod at the accomplishment.

Then, sometimes only minutes later, you begin to second guess your decisions.  You look at your work as someone else, someone outside of yourself.  You wonder what others will think.  You wonder what flaws they will find.  You wonder whether they will understand your intention.  You wonder whether they will appreciate not just your effort but your talent.  Then you begin to wonder if you have talent.

Is everything you create worthless?  Is everything you have created not as good as you thought?  Do people really like your work or have they just been ‘being nice’ to your face?  How does your work stand up compared to everyone else’s? 

In considering these terrible possibilities, we begin to look for ways to validate our creations.  What makes something ‘good?’  What makes something ‘great?’ Do we really need outside validation that our work is brilliant?  Shouldn’t our own opinion mean more than anyone else’s?  It should but in so many cases, as much as we would like it to, our opinion carries less weight than those of others.  We seek out approval.  We want readers.  We want fans.  We want people to read or view our work and be forever affected.

The goal of creating is to express our thoughts, our emotions, our intentions and to affect others with them.  Some people out there deny self-doubt.  They insist they care nothing for outside views and validation.  If this is true, then why do they write?  They write because they want to share.  They can’t imagine not writing.  Even people writing in a diary write because they need to share their secrets with someone.

For those who share their works with the world, self doubt can be crippling.  Lack of views, lack of comments and lack of acceptance can all lead to negativity.  Some people take this to heart and decide that because there has been no validation of their skills or too little validation of their skills in comparison to others – that they should stop writing.  I say to these people – buck up.  Life is full of little disappointments.  Life is full of being ignored.  It is full of bad reviews and inconsiderate people. 

Life’s little setbacks must not sway your desire to write and express your personality to the world.  As the
saying goes, or says something similar to it, the world would be a dull place if only the birds who sang best ever lifted their voice in song.  The truth is that no one is ever ‘the best.’  There is no all out perfect writer or artist.  There will always be someone better than you, smarter than you, wittier than you and with more views.  You can’t let that dissuade you from writing. 

Write.  Write because you want to.  Write because it makes you feel good.  Write because those stories inside your head won’t rest until put on paper.  Write despite the odds.  When the little voice inside your head says stop, turn back, don’t publish that, or you’re not good enough – tell it to step off.  Be yourself and be proud to be different.  Avoid negativity like the poison that it is.  Put your work out there and don’t second guess, don’t look back, just get to work on your next project.

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