“Self-trust is the first secret of success.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
when i talk to writers, novice and professional alike, about their writing, one thing always rings clear – no one is certain they have what it takes to be a writer!! everyone has doubts!! but sometimes i think we let those doubts get so huge they get in the way of our successfully writing anything.
it’s the romanic image of the writer, is it not? that tortured poet a la elizabeth barrett, locked in her third floor bedroom wrestling her feisty, elusive muse. i wonder how much of that image is pure bs. i wonder how much writing could actually happen if we just believed in ourselves and left the self torture to the masochists.
whilst i pondered this (i have a tendency to use words like “whilst” when i think of elizabeth barrett), i found these two quizzes online, one is short and sweet, click here, and one takes a few thoughtful minutes and digs a little deeper, click here. it’s an interesting thing to do, to say the least – one of them said i “had a reasonably high sense of self esteem,” the other said i was whithering on the floor nearly incapacitated with my inability to just believe in myself – actually it said i was “low” and that “a change in mindset could make all the difference in the world.”
what’s neat is that each of them, and any article i found on the subject, attributed poor mental outlook with poor personal output. low self esteem not being just about feeling bad about yourself, but also about doing bad, or less, work.
specifically, ”You seem to experience some doubt about your own abilities, occasional feelings of inadequacy … if you believe that you cannot do something, your belief causes you to think and behave in a way that leads to your eventual failure. Although your self-esteem is generally healthy, and some insecurity is normal, it certainly can’t hurt to give your confidence a boost.”
elizabeth barrett may have written some decent poetry, but she spent half her life suffering from debilitating agoraphobia and addicted to opium. she was eventually “saved” by marrying fellow poet robert browning and whisked off to the italian coast, to live life, to be happy, and be doing so she arguably, WROTE BETTER POETRY!
while an army of robert brownings are not likely to whisk us off like the suffering damsels we are – you neither boys – they say, if you name it you claim it, and if you know you’re only really beating yourself up for nothing then you can stop right? well, old habits die hard, but maybe, just for today, you should just BELIEVE you can do it, and see what sort of magic-like writing might come out of that…
i’ll do the same, if only for today … but first i got to put some ice on my eye. that muse of mine sure has a mean right hook!!Katherena Vermette