iStock_000024086772Large. stress at work

Writers and Self-Doubt and the Myth of Success

Posted on Posted in Inspiration and Motivation, The Prolific Author

Remarkable entrepreneur Tim Ferris has an excellent blog post about the myths that surround so-called ‘successful’ people – which in this context are the star leaders in fields such as business and sports.

One thing Tim said has stayed with me; “They’re weird, neurotic creatures who do big things DESPITE lots of self-defeating habits and self-talk.”

Self-defeating habits and limiting self-talk and self-sabotaging belief systems.

I don’t know a single author who is not plagued by precisely those thoughts. Do you?

Some, such as myself, suffer from chronic procrastination which I am working through on a daily basis through a personal process that has taken me years to develop. My 25 books have been achieved, as Tim says, DESPITE the self-defeating doubts and fears.

But the real shame is that many fine writers surrender to the self-doubt and informed pessimism and crash and burn and give up. 

Because it is just TOO HARD to fight the ‘resistance’ as Steven Pressfield calls it.

Hard? For non-writers this seems a ridiculous concept.

How can sitting on your comfy sofa scribbling away in the warmth be hard?

And they are totally right in many respects. My father was an underground coal miner in the days when they had pit-ponies working deep inside the mines to drag out the coal. Compared to that hard labour which was not only dangerous, claustrophobic, wet and dirty but physically destroying, writing for a living is a true luxury and one for which I am sincerely grateful.

But there are some days when the next person who asks me how many books I have ‘churned out’ is likely to get kicked in the shins with the pointy toe of my Italian designer silk spotty stiletto.

Fiorini silk shoes - Nina style

[thanks to the lovely Janet Gover for taking the photo of my lower extremities]

Why? Because I CARE about my work. I care desperately. And that makes me scared.

Scared that the work is not going to match my perfectionist standards.

Scared of failure. Whose book ever matches the magical idea that is inside our heads? It can come close.

Scared that the work is not going to match my perfectionist standards.

Scared of success and exceeding expectations and having to do it all again tomorrow.

Scared that I will not be able to work through all of the ideas in my head in the time I have to do it it in, and will go to my grave unfilled because the big powerful legacy idea never saw the light of day. I was always working on it but never got it finished and submitted because it is just too important to me to get wrong.

Time for a big bucket of ‘stop whining and get on with it’ to be dumped over my healthy, well fed and incredibly lucky head.

Something like this for example.

Happy Wednesday.




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