The Saturday Creativity Quote — the role of self-doubt

Rushing water between two large sedimentary rocks

A book out next Tuesday — Between a Wok and a Dead Place — and another spread out on the desk. Of course the little gremlins of doubt are nattering at me. I have learned that they can be useful at times, when they spur us to improve our work, to go deeper into character and motivation, to reach for a better phrase or keener observation, to sharpen the dialogue, but when they tell me I’m not any good, I tell them to go read a book in the corner or nap with the cat and we’ll talk later. And then I get to work and trust we’ll all be in a better place next time.

“Accept that your work will never feel satisfactory, because without that self-critical element, we’d never try to improve. Our yearning to accomplish more is what makes it possible to endure a learning process that for quite some time may offer little promise of external reward.
. . .
[I]t isn’t up to us to believe in ourselves, it’s up to us to do the work.”
– Kathryn Craft, “The Hidden—but Crucial—Mad Skill,” Writer Unboxed, 12/9/21

The Saturday Writing Quote — on professional envy

We all go through it, those moments when you read a book by another author and wonder why you couldn’t have written that, or hear about a deal made or a sales threshold met, and feel something you’d really rather not feel: envy. Not that you don’t want the other person to succeed; not at all. You just want a similar experience. Often, I will use those experiences to identify some element in my work that I can improve. I set the intention, make a plan, study, practice, go. It works. But I think it works best combined with an internal approach, much like that novelist Kathryn Craft describes in a recent post on Writer Unboxed titled Authenticity Builds a Satisfying Author Career. This advice particularly struck me:

“The next time author envy delivers its sucker punch, try this: instead of asking why you can’t have what that other author has, ask, “How can my author life better reflect who I am, so that I’m happier?” Do that, and you’ll build a career that will both fuel you for the long haul and replenish that fuel along the way.”

The Saturday Writing Quote

“Creative writing is not an escape. It’s the opposite. Fiction demands that we dive headfirst into puddles of conflict others might choose to sidestep. It asks that we scratch and dig until we unearth emotional truths, and then find a way to convey them so that a reader we’ve never met can share the same journey.”

– Kathryn Craft, on Writer Unboxed: Seeking Truth in Fiction, 1/10/19

(painting: The Barn, pastel on sandpaper, by me)