How to Fight Creative Doubt

Several weeks ago I wrote a story for The Write Practice about the hidden value of a handwritten letter. In my file, labeled Letters, I found a thirty-year old letter from Tokyo. The letter was addressed to me,  at The Tokyo Journal, the magazine where I worked as a photographer and graphic designer in Tokyo, Japan in 1985.

creative doubt

The letter is postmarked,  August 31st 1985. The letter is from Steven J. Pincus, the Vice President of Abbeville Press, a publisher of fine art and illustrated books, located in New York City.

I met Steven J. Pincus, the Vice President, at a press conference in Tokyo where I was sent on a photographic assignment for The Tokyo Journal’s Faces section.  Abbeville Press was presenting a facsimile edition of John James Audubon’s Birds of America to The National Diet Library.

tokyoLETTER

The Vice President was interested in the photo documentary I was working on, Women of Japan.  I was photographing ordinary women in ordinary jobs. Housewives, store clerks, the women who lived on my street, nurses, and students who I met while I taught English. I was interviewing them about their lives and photographing them in their homes.

When the Vice President flew out several days later, he read on the airplane, that days edition of The Mainichi News. There was an article in the newspaper about a solo exhibit I was having at The Polaroid Gallery.

lettertokyo#3

There was a fabulous announcement of your show in today’s Japan Times. I’m sure it’s going to be a big success for you and a launching pad to bigger and better things.

I’ve been thinking about your “Women of Japan” project and I think it could make a beautiful book. Although we couldn’t finance your photography up front, I do think we could do an excellent job producing and distributing a worthy book. — Steven J. Pincus

The Worst Enemy of Creativity is Self-Doubt

The worst enemy of creativity is self-doubt. — Sylvia Plath

I never finished the project, Women of Japan. I never mailed any photographs to Steven J. Pincus, the Vice President of Abbeville Press. I didn’t risk rejection.

I don’t know why I saved the letter for thirty years—maybe to remind me of what could have been? Maybe I saved the letter to remind me I had a good idea?

But.

Instead of doing the work and completing my photographic project, I started to doubt my idea. I compared myself to other photographers.  My mind was filled with all the reasons why my book wouldn’t be good. My book is just of ordinary people, I don’t speak Japanese very well. This is too hard. My friends are better photographers than me. 

Steven Pressfield’s book, The War of Art — Break Through The Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battleswouldn’t be published for another seventeen years.

Resistance is not a peripheral opponent. Resistance arises from within. It is self-generated and self-perpetuated. Resistance is the enemy within.
― Steven Pressfield, The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks & Win Your Inner Creative Battles

My self-doubt was self-generated and self-perpetuated. I didn’t know how to fight the enemy within.

Learning From Regret

LetterTokyo#2

I regret not finishing the photographic documentary, Women of Japan. 

The letter I saved reminds me to not quit and push through the fear. The letter reminds me to fight resistance and self-doubt, and create.

Steven J. Pincus, The Vice President of Abbeville Press, might not have liked the photographs I sent him. However, I never gave him an opportunity to like or dislike my photographs. I never gave myself a chance to fail or succeed. I never finished the project and I never mailed any photographs.

I don’t want my filing cabinet to be filled with letters of unfulfilled dreams. Letters of regret. I don’t want to put off my dreams until there is no more time. 

The most pernicious aspect of procrastination is that it can become a habit. We don’t just put off our lives today; we put them off till our deathbed.
― Steven Pressfield, The War of Art

Learn From Regret and Change Your Future

Never look back unless you are planning to go that way.
― Henry David Thoreau

Do you have unfinished manuscripts in your filing cabinet? Do you hesitate to finish your stories and submit them to an editor, or to publish them on your blog? 

Are your songs unsung? Do you leave the paint in the tubes and your canvas’s bare?

Take out your manuscript, sing your songs, and paint your canvases. Replace regret with hope. Do the work. And don’t worry about what anyone else thinks. I love this quote by Andy Warhol. It helps me remember to make art and not worry about what people think.

Don’t think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it’s good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art.
― Andy Warhol

How to Battle Creative Doubt

Last fall, I took a class in page layout and design. I wanted to learn how to use Adobe InDesign to format books I had written and will write.  For one of the assignments I did a self-directed project and made a ninty-eight page coloring book.

The number one selling book on Amazon at that time was an adult coloring book by Johanna Blasford, Secret Garden.

A Vice President of a publishing company was not offering to publish my coloring book. The market has changed in the last thirty years. Authors can now self-publish their books. I published my book independently using Create Space on Amazon.

There are no gate-keepers to keep us from publishing a book.

The battle we have to fight is within. Our battle is with creative doubt, or what Steven Pressfield calls, resistance.

I battled creative-doubt and resistance and silenced all the little voices I could not get to shut up in 1985 in Tokyo Japan. Why are you making a coloring book about cats? There are already one thousand, seven hundred and twenty-two  cat coloring books on Amazon. Why are you making one more?

Well, little voice of resistance. Shut-up!  There will be one more coloring book of cats. Now there will be one thousand, seven hundred and twenty-three cat coloring books.

1. Do the work
2. Do the work.
3. Do the work.
4. Finish.
5. Ship.

A FREE Gift For You — A Coloring Book

As a thank you to The Write Practice, and as a gift to everyone who reads my articles here, I would like to give you a free copy of my coloring book, Color The Cats: Forty Real Cats From Around The World and Their Stories.

The book is for sale on Amazon for $12.99, but if you sign up on my web-site, ipaintiwrite.com, I will give you a free pdf copy of the coloring book. The same PDF I sent to Create Space when I published the book. 10% of all proceeds will be donated to a  no-kill animal shelter.

I write about art, creativity, and finding joy in everyday life with cat barf and seven litter boxes, at ipaintiwrite.com.  Encouraging you to believe in your ability to create.

coloringbookbutton

 

Have you ever had a battle with creative doubt?  Who won? Let me know in the comments section.

PRACTICE

Is there a story you stopped writing because you thought it wasn’t good enough? Did you doubt your ability to create? Please work on the story you gave up on, and share in the comments  an excerpt of your story.

For today’s practice. Write for fifteen minutes about a creative person who has to battle a dragon every time they sit down to write.  How will the writer kill the dragon? Will they hit the dragon in the head with their computer?  Will they kill the dragon by throwing forty pound bags of kitty litter at it?  How will they kill the dragon?

Or write for fifteen minutes on your current writing project. Or take a nap. Or clean your toilets.
As always, I love to read your writing, but I don’t want to clean your toilets.

xo
Pamela

About Pamela Hodges

Pamela writes about art, creativity, and reflections on life with six cats, two dogs, two birds, and seven litter boxes. She would love to meet you at ipaintiwrite.com.

  • Sana Damani

    I felt it again. The dreaded urge. I tried to ignore it, but it simply wouldn’t go away. I had an idea and it had to be written down. There was no choice but to go to the room I had once loved, but had come to fear.

    I went down into my makeshift study that used to be a basement, which had had the poor luck of being the site of a horrible murder. The house was quickly rumored to be haunted, as these things go, and no one wanted to buy it, which is why I got it dirt cheap. A writer knows her fantasy from reality.

    At least, I thought I did, until the dragon showed up that once, while I was typing away furiously at my computer; typing gibberish because the words wouldn’t come. “What happens next?” I kept saying aloud. I wasn’t expecting an answer from the outside; there was never anyone around to listen.

    But that day, I received a response: “Nothing… nothing… nothing happens”, said a soft silky voice in a dull monotone. I looked around the dark room, wondering if schizophrenia was perhaps genetic, until I found the source of negativity. It was a dragon. I know what you’re thinking: it was dark, I had been up for 28 hours straight, I was seeing things. That, in fact, was my conclusion, and I decided I needed a break.

    I returned at 10 a.m. the following morning, my head full of ideas as to how to get my heroine out of trouble this time without having to invoke the dreaded “gods of machine”. I’ll admit, I’ve succumbed to the temptation of an easy out in the past, but my new year’s resolution was to come up with better plot resolutions.

    As I said, I returned to my study, all ready to finish the next chapter of my novel, when I heard it again. A hissing whisper that was at once sleep-inducing and nightmare-provoking. I tried to ignore it, deciding the psychiatric visit could wait till *after* I had finished my best-seller, but each whispered “nothing” seemed to make me lose my thread of thought until I could think nothing anymore.

    I put away the manuscript for a week, deciding perhaps that I needed some time off. I stayed away from the study and got on with my day job, living like a mere mortal, without inspiration or art or, thankfully, pessimistic dragons.

    And that brings us to today. I reached the study, hoping to have bored him out of here, but there he sat, in all his reptilian, scaly, critical glory. It was surprising the mouth could form words, and yet, he spoke. I calmly suggested he get out of my house. He actually smiled at that. I don’t think he liked that very much, because when I opened my laptop, his words became worse. “Phony, cliched, uninspired”. I couldn’t take it anymore. It was time to do something. I had tried to be polite, asking the uninvited dragon to at least keep it down while I was trying to work, but he just got louder, like an annoying neighbor.

    If I ever wanted to finish my story, I needed an antidote. Now, you might wonder why I chose to write in the haunted basement, but this was a matter of pride. I would not be driven out of my own hallowed room of work by a figment of my imagination. It would not do.

    I had a plan.

    I showed up the next day with a voice recorder instead of my laptop. The dragon only spoke when I opened the laptop and so I decided I would say my story instead of writing it. The dragon stayed quite. And so, as I spoke my story out loud, the story that he hated so much, he sat there, watching, listening and fuming. And by that I mean literal fumes seemed to be emanating from the large red dragon. Flames then emanated from the dragon, because of course I was being haunted by a fire-breathing one (what a cliche). As the flames grew, they seemed to engulf him, turning him from burning coal to ash, until there was nothing left anymore. My story had vanquished a monster! Alternatively, it had been bad enough to cause the poor dragon ghost to kill its undead self.

    • Great story 🙂 I tried recording my latest short story on my Smartphone the other day, and it actually helped to get the story off the ground.

    • Christine

      Good riddance to that pest! And good job telling the tale; now make this into a children’s book.

    • Hello Sana,
      Your dragon put up a good fight. But you realized boredom wouldn’t finish him off, only doing the work kills the dragon.
      Pressfield says the size of the dragon is proportional to the size of your dream. The bigger the dream the bigger the dragon.
      May all of your dragons be huge.
      xo
      Pamela

      • Sana Damani

        Thanks! My dragon was a symbol for writer’s block/self-doubt. And yes, just ignoring it and doing the work is what vanquishes it.

        And I really liked “May all of your dragons be huge”. Now to make it as iconic as “May the force be with you” and “May the odds be ever in your favor” 🙂

  • Ruth

    Hi Pamela: Great to read one of your posts again! This year I took a deep breath and moved forward with a book I always wanted to leave for my children and will be published in a few weeks. I know it’s not perfect but the heart of it will beat on for a long time. Thanks for all the inspiration and I will sign up for the coloring book! Did you receive my hand-written note a few months back? Carry on with cats, dogs, litter boxes and great achievement!

    • Hello Ruth,
      So nice to see you again today. I would love to know more about the book you have written. How special to have a book for your children to read.
      Perfect is only a word in the dictionary, stuck between Peretz and perfectible.
      Thank you for your kind card. I have it on my desk. I save all my cards from friends in a file labeled, “important papers.” When I feel sad, I read all of the notes.
      xo
      Pamela

  • Pamela, thank you so much for writing this article. I am trying to get back into the habit of writing, and articles like this one is exactly what I need to get more confident 🙂

    • Hello Dinara,
      You are vey welcome.
      Did you write today. I am trying to write but my cat keeps trying to lick my hand.
      xo
      Pamela

      • You have a very affectionate cat 🙂 I try to write every day, even if it’s just character descriptions.

  • Dan de Angeli

    Your story about the book on Japanese Women reminds me of when I too was in Japan for two years 1982 to 1984 and tried to make a movie called Machi No Kao (Faces in the Town). Later I tried to write a book about Japan. I lacked confidence in both projects, and felt that Japan and already “been done” by bigger people than me, like Jay McInerney and the like. It has taken me this long to realize that my Japan does not belong to anyone else and that my story, if told well, is just as valuable as the next writer.

    It took me then I stopped writing altogether, and only now am I in position to take it on again seriously with my memoir project, in which I devote a chapter to a failed love affair I had in Japan.

    Thanks for the kick in the pants.

    • Hello Dan de Angeli,
      You are so right, your Japan doesn’t belong to anyone else. Your story is your story. Just as valuable.
      It is so sad, all the stories that are never written because the writer loses confidence. Comparison can kill dreams and words.
      We were in Japan at the same time! I lived there from 1983 to 1990.

      I am delighted my story was a kick in the pants. Please share how you are doing with your memoir. My favorite book on writing memoir is, “The Memoir Project.” I wrote about it here. http://thewritepractice.com/19-tips-on-writing-memoir-from-the-memoir-project-by-marion-roach-smith/
      xo
      Pamela

      • Dan de Angeli

        hi Pamela

        Yes I did read The Memoir Project based on your previous post. It was an amazing read and has definitely shaped my own memoir project, viz:

        I was concerned about the “ordinariness” of my characters life, but then I took Sara’s advice to let the “theme” be the subject and my character an “illustration” of that theme.

        I hope to finish the rough draft by the end of March.

        Do you have any experience with BETA readers?

        My next area of concern is Great. You wrote a memoir. Who cares?

        I would like to write an essay on THAT theme.

        thanks Dan

    • Hello Dan de Angeli,
      You are so right, your Japan doesn’t belong to anyone else. Your story is your story. Just as valuable.
      It is so sad, all the stories that are never written because the writer loses confidence. Comparison can kill dreams and words.
      We were in Japan at the same time! I lived there from 1983 to 1990.

      I am delighted my story was a kick in the pants. Please share how you are doing with your memoir. My favorite book on writing memoir is, “The Memoir Project.” I wrote about it here.
      xo
      Pamela

  • LaCresha Lawson

    I had been wanting to write ever since I was in the military. This was around 2003.I am just now publishing books because I thought that my grammar wasn’t good enough. How horrible for me to have waited so long. But, alas, I am more prepared now! Yeah! And, getting my Masters sure helped, too.

    • Hello LaCresha,
      Yeah! for publishing books! And yeah! for getting your Masters and being in the military. What books are you publishing? How exciting!
      So nice to see you hear.
      xo
      Pamela

      • LaCresha Lawson

        Thank you so much for your enthusiasm! It is always appreciated. I am publishing children’s books. And, I also want to write a screen play. Maybe someone could write about how to make it easy.

  • EmFairley

    Great article, Pamela, thank you! I’m also an artist and writer and having neglected the writing for too long, it’s now the art that is. I’ll find a balance one day 🙂

    • Thank you EmFairly,
      So nice to meet another writer, artist.
      Balancing is can be hard. There never seems to be enough hours in the day to get it all done. I wonder if we are just suppose to do the best we can with what we have today.
      xo
      Pamela

      • EmFairley

        I would love 48 hours in a day, as long as the number of days in the week stayed the same. Maybe then I’d accomplish everything on the to-do list? Then again, maybe not… LOL

  • Claire

    Great post, Pamela! They’re always full of good information. I’m including an excerpt of a story I started four months ago that I haven’t touched since then. It’s entitled “The Silencer.”
    **********************************************
    Mick Wolfe had flown in from Miami on one of the daily Pan American seaplane flights. He was to reunite with his regular Bimini nautical crew the following morning. Relying on the seafaring expertise of these shady characters over the years had paid off, and he had come to gain their respect and trust.

    The events of the night before at the Miami Beach nightclub owned by one of The Organization bosses, Ray “The Manta” Assante, were a blur. Mick remembered the myriad of beautiful women who sat around his table, but couldn’t remember the bottles of booze he and his other underworld cronies had consumed. He needed to sleep off the hangover in order to have a clear head and sharp senses for his next mission.

    Mick’s involvement in The Organization as an associate had taken place sometime after his dishonorable discharge as a Navy SEAL. This had entailed 18-months in the can after being found guilty for intentionally leaving his post and failing to return to his last mission.

    His was a Special Operations Officer conducting clandestine operations involving insertion and extraction of individuals to and from enemy territory. He was also an outstanding sharpshooter, earning him the code name of The Silencer.

    Tonight, he was grateful to be back on the island, for all he could think about was getting some shuteye. He placed a call from a nearby payphone, and a cab picked him up at the marina entrance. Mick slid into the back seat.

    “Where to, buddy?” The cabby asked, looking into the rearview mirror.

    “1001 Port Royal Road, my friend,” Mick answered, trying to keep his eyes opened.

    “You got it, bud.”

    Mick’s small bungalow in South Bimini was not far from the seaplane’s drop-off point at the marina. He tried to sit straight in the backseat, but Sinatra’s melodious voice wafting from the car’s radio was lulling his senses. Jolted from his stuporous state when the cab stopped abruptly, Mick saw his bungalow from the backseat window and realized he was home.

    He stepped out of the cab into the hot August night and made his way toward the house. He had lived there for a few years, and the main attraction for his relocation from Miami was his love of deep-sea fishing. It also offered the seclusion he needed in order to keep a low profile.

    Inside, the darkness, heat and humidity hit him like a ton of bricks. He headed straight into the bedroom and disrobed, strewing his clothes about. Once in bed, sleep overcame him; it was restless and invaded by nightmares…

    • Claire, Claire, Claire,
      How could you do this to me? If I had the rest of the book right now, I would ignore the seven litter boxes, not feed the children and read this book until it was finished.
      Please, finish the story. I kept thinking someone is in the room.
      xo
      Pamela

      • Claire

        I appreciate your encouraging words, Pamela. This is the first time I’ve delved into this category of fiction. I recently decided to work on this short story, and I’m in the process of finishing it. Of course there’s much more written after the bedroom scene, which BTW, I liked that you thought there was someone in the room. I guess it’s a good way of building up suspense, so if the excerpt made you want to read more, then I’m off to a good start. Thanks again!

  • felicia_d

    Many thanks for this, Pamela! It’s on my desktop now – to remind me and keep me writing!

    • Hello felicia_d,
      You are very welcome. Yes, keep writing.
      Wishing you all my best. May your words come out of your brain, and bring you and your readers joy!
      xo
      Pamela

  • A quick internet search reveals that Mr. Pincus is still working in the publishing industry, albeit not at Abbeville Press. You should send him something, even if it’s just to say hi! 🙂

    I really like this post. I’ve recently been dealing with a lot of creative doubt—so much so that I almost gave up writing altogether. Thanks for reminding me to keep creating.

    • Hello Natalie,
      The week before I published this story I contacted Mr. Pincus on LinkedIn and asked his permission to use his name in the story. It was so nice to be in touch again after so many years.

      I am glad you liked the post. But, mostly I am glad because it reminded you to not give up. Only you can tell your stories. And by the look of the background in your photograph you have stories to tell. 🙂
      xo
      Pamela

  • Ronel

    I paced parallel the chair hoping to make another attempt at the one task on my to-do list this morning. I had one job, one thing to do and I could not bring myself to do it. I looked at the black leather swivel chair with contempt now – that dreadful, absolutely dreadful dragon of a chair. I named that dreadful dragon Desire. Every time I approached my computer screen to sit and write the one thing I needed to write today, Desire made me hot, angry, and fearful about things I hadn’t even considered before approaching. Desire made me think: what if it doesn’t work? What if she doesn’t even open it? Or worse…what if I never get a response? My words would just float in space unanswered. Well, I presume no answer is some answer, but an answer that begs more questions.

    I had worked myself up to do this for weeks. Last week I worked up the nerve to even consider the thought of writing Sara and, in the past few days, I finally found the resolve to do it…so I thought. But then I met Desire and she was way more than I bargained for. Desire was large, mobile, scaly, and able to unearth subconscious fears that made me jump from her arms and run into the kitchen. I found comfort there among the ice cream and fried chicken.

    I’m a coward. I let some imaginary fears stop me from telling Sara all I hoped to tell her when I first met her. I had to tame Desire, look her square on and make her see my fears of losing my chance with Sara and being forever alone. I walked up to that black bully and spun her around, grabbed her by the arms and sat down with purpose. I propped up the screen on my laptop and pushed the power button. I was going to do it this time but everything went black…not in my head, my laptop was dead. The charger was way over in the corner by another dragon I called the exercise room. I put her on my to-do list at the beginning of January…I haven’t conquered her just yet.

    • Ronel,
      Your description of your charge and the battles you were fighting were so real. I love this sentence, “I found comfort there among the ice cream and fried chicken.”

      Great dramatic ending, fighting desire and starting the computer. Then you had to go and fight another dragon!
      xo
      Pamela

  • Wendy Ells

    Hi Pamela, Thanks for this lovely post. It reminded me of a letter I have in my attic (also dated around 1985) from an editor in a big London publishing house asking me to send in any further stories I had written. I was so thrilled to receive it, elated. Yet I never sent any stories.

    • Hello Wendy Ells,
      Wow, you have a similar experience. I wonder if we wanted to live with the dream of “what if” rather than finishing and not have the work accepted?
      Are you writing now? And, are you a rabbit?
      xo
      Pamela

      • Wendy Ells

        Hi again, well I have been mulling the ‘what if’ question and it seems reasonable if not probable. I heard an anecdote on the radio just the other day about a man who always leaves one number un-revealed on a scratch card. He says that he’s never going to win anyway, but at least that way, if five of the numbers match the winning ones, he still has the ‘what if’ to dream about. I’m 54 now, still writing but never finishing. I have a good friend from way back who is a seriously important literary agent. Have I ever approached him? Of course not. And today it occurred to me he’ll be approaching retirement soon and then it really will be too late. Maybe that’s what I’m waiting for, the moment in my life when I can finally say ‘well it’s too late now.’
        And that’s a hare, not a rabbit. x

        • Wendy Ells

          Actually that’s not strictly true about never finishing. I published a collection of short stories last year and have just published a children’s story that has been languishing on the shelf for eight years : )

  • Claire

    Pamela, I didn’t receive the email with the link to your coloring book. Thanks for looking into this.

    • Claire,
      Did you get it yet?
      xo
      Pamela

      • Claire

        I have not gotten it yet, Pamela.

  • George McNeese

    Thank you so much for this post. Comparing myself to other writers is the one thing that has kept me from writing more and submitting stories and writing novels. I tend to think that everyone is better than me. I read their pieces and I pay attention to tone, pace, grammar, etc. I feel like they got it down, where I struggle with similar things. I feel like I’ll never be as good as them.

    • Hello George,
      Thank you for sharing about how you compare. You don’t have to be like them, you have to be like you. So when people read your stories they are reading how George writes.
      If you find an author who has the tone and pacing you like, use it as a model. Benjamin Franklin would take a paragraph and try to re-write it in his own words. He learned how to write by learning from writers he admired.
      You are a great writer George. You just have to write. I can’t read words in your brain, they have to be on paper.
      Wishing you many days full of pages and pages of George McNeese’s words.
      xo
      Pamela

  • Rhonda Flack

    I worry all the time, then I worry about worrying

  • Barbara Olsen

    When I was in art school in Edmonton over thirty years ago, we had finished up the year with our end-of-the-year projects displayed across our multiple classrooms. Bigwigs from the art community were invited to come and preview our projects. The next day my art teacher told me that the head of set design for the premier theater company in town was impressed by my work and asked the teacher to let me know and to give him a call if I was interested in a job. I made all kinds of excuses not to call, but the real reason was that I was insecure about my creative abilities. I feared I would be exposed as a ‘fraud’. I never made the call and still regret it to this day :(.

  • Christine

    Great article, inspiring and witty, yes! Just what I needed to hear about my unfinished proposal. Grows bigger by day in my head not the page! Changing that now!

  • Will

    Please, don’t let this be happening. Not again.

    I had sat down for just a few seconds and the rush came back as vivid and dark as ever.

    I looked around and searched for it. When would the dragon show up? He wasn’t there. He was never right there. He always slithered under the cracks of my bedroom, behind my desk, up my spine, until he was at my neck.

    Sometimes I shiver when I think of him. The mere thought of him makes me not want to have him here. Not again.

    I picked up my pen and started doodling a line on the paper. Slowly it begins to form a word. That word’s the first I start with, and the first I throw away.

    I feel like rubbish. I am rubbish.

    But I must do this work. I must, I must. That’s my mantra.

    I imagine the first scene, the first sentence, and I hope that it will flow out as beautiful as I imagine it to be.

    I can hear the dragon slithering. From the corner of my eye I catch a glimpse of him. Those pale fleshy scales, and eyes of mud. He’s going up my spine and in a few moments he’ll reach my neck and –

    No! – focus, I tell myself. Please let this go well, I pray.

    I start putting down words and all seems fine, for a while. The dragon hasn’t made a move. Once I’ve written about a page I put my pen down and give myself a short break. I deserve this, I try to think. However badly I’ve written, I can just go though and over it and –

    The dragon sinks its teeth into my neck. Right on the carotid. The flow of oxygen to my brain stops, and my soul begins to choke. My chest fills with ice and tightens. I am drowning. I rush to my desk and start going over my manuscript. The mistakes of grammar and spelling fly out at me and strike me across the face. It stings.

    Next the sheer stupidity of my ideas hits me. I want to cry. The dragon is draining me of my blood. I scramble with the little strength left in me to edit my draft.

    It reaches a point where I just can’t take it anymore. I tear the paper to pieces and start again. Once I have another page down I’m even more tired than when I began. I have mere droplets of blood left in me. The vampiric snake at my neck has drained me of everything, and I have nothing inside but some meaningless organs and a faintly pulsing heart.

    I spend the next hours in a daze. I don’t dare go near my desk again.

    When it’s time to go to bed, I glance over it and I get the urge again. What if, I ask myself, I can do it this once?

    Once I reread my mutilated drafts it hits me. They’re not half as bad as I’d imagined them. Just some cuts here and there and this could be a seed for a good piece.

    For the rest of the evening and late into the night, I write. The dragon slithers around me, but it is satiated. It cannot drain me when I’m this numb of feeling.

    When I finish writing, I am happily exhausted. It is not prefect but it is manageable.

    And just for a few hours the dragon was nowhere near me.

  • Self-doubt is so painful, and it often crops up during the times when we need writing and self-expression the most. (You know, the hard times.) I’m pretty sure that taming the nasty, self-critical voice in my head will be my life’s work.
    Thanks, Pamela.

  • A.M. Jackson

    Here’s my excerpt.
    //
    River Neva has frozen again. I’m sitting as close as I can get at sundown, throwing small stones at the surface, trying to make a dent in the ice. Anastasia left a while ago, and I stayed here, watching my breath condense and a couple of ducks trying to find a place where the water hasn’t frozen.

    Anastasia is my sister. Usually she’ll go by the name Stasy, but I ignore that most of the time and draw out her full name. She’s particularly blonde and popular, and has longer limbs than I have. She proves it by winning every basketball game that ever happens.

    She took her friend Jessy von Ackerman along with her too, hence why I’m alone in doing this.

    About two hours ago, Anastasia and Jessy were visiting the Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood for perhaps the dozenth time, and I was standing outside awkwardly waiting for them. I did so for about half an hour, before getting tiresome and walking all the way to River Neva’s embankments. By then it was sundown, at around six, so I found a place close to the ice and sat down. They found me later, trying to get a duck to sit with me.

    They both left me to get on with my business, which at that point, was throwing sticks and stones further onto the ice until someone noticed, and shot me a look.

    Now it was around seven, and what the weather calls Nautical Twilight. I wondered if I should go back to the flat, but it’s not like Anastasia would be there.

    I was about to sit up and run back home when someone else sat down beside me.
    //
    Any feedback would be nice!!