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Riddled with self-doubt

This might be because I am a teeny-tiny bit hungover today. Or it might just be the natural ebb and flow of my own waves of self-hatred. But today I feel absolutely riddled with self-doubt. I am convinced I am a terrible writer.

I woke up suddenly clear that at only 6000 words into my first draft I have already made structural mistakes. I've missed out crucial bits of information, failed to properly establish elements of character, failed to expand on scenes the way I should have. I feel confident - confident that my work is a complete mess.

For most of the morning I have sat in front of the television wallowing in my own misery and failure, berating myself. "What right have you got to be doing this, anyway?" "Who exactly do you think you are?"

Well, this is exactly the kind of behaviour that is going to get in the way of my goals (and associated dreams!). And I need to snap out of it. Everyone feels like this part of the time. You cannot expect to begin as a fully-formed expert in novel writing. Becoming proficient takes practice.

I remember when I was first teaching English and it was (to use a cliché) like the blind leading the blind. I did not have a clue what I was doing and it's a miracle those poor children learned a thing in my classes. But now I'm not afraid to say that I'm a pretty good English teacher. My pupils make a marked improvement over the course of an academic year. Exam candidates get the best result they could achieve. Pupils who are resitting their National 5 for the third year in a row pass. Something had to happen to get me from the point where I knew nothing to the point I'm at now - or, more precisely, I had to do something.

So what was the magic that occurred? Simple. I reflected. I read and researched. I adapted strategies and techniques. As my skills improved my confidence grew. It's the same with everything I've ever learned how to do. Take using the weights area in the gym - the historic stomping ground of big, intimidating men. (No, seriously, at my gym there are quite a few sporting some fetching CPS issue ankle wear, if ya know what I mean.) To begin with, when I didn't really know what I was doing, it was terrifying. But now that I know the correct form for exercises, it doesn't bother me anymore. My confidence grew.

I think the reason I find it difficult to apply this same logic to writing is because being a published writer is the one thing I have ever really wanted out of my life. It's this terrible, secret dream that, if I can't achieve, I know I'll never really get over. But that doesn't mean that the same rules don't apply. Confidence is earned.

And on that note, I suppose I better pull myself together and try and write my messy 1000 words for the day. I'll need something to reflect on if I'm ever going to get any better!

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