Struggles Of A Self-Doubting Writer

Darlings, I have a confessionI’m a very self-doubting writer. Perhaps the more honest term would be that I’m “self-deprecating” because I can criticize myself like no other person on the planet. I suppose that this facet, much like writing as a whole, is simply another reflection of my internal struggles as a twenty-something woman.

I’m, by nature, a very self-conscious personas my unfailing ability to be awkward has been repeatedly pointed out to me my entire life. Sometimes it’s because I’m tall or that I’m innately clumsy, which I can hardly do anything about. But more frequently it’s because my personality is quirky and intense, and I often behave differently than people would expect, or prefer. It’s as impossible to change my personality as it is my height, and yet criticisms I receive imply that my personality is at fault, and oh my I’m such a deviant. It’s hard to not internalize those comments by people I trust or look up to, and the self-doubt only increases my feelings that I am awkward and eternally on the verge of screwing up. My writing is a glaring reflection of my self on a white sheet of paper, rather than in the mirror, and so I read it and feel that it is awkward and spastic, and never as good as my fellow darling authors.

I’m on Literally, Darling’s author board with some really stellar writers. Some of them have English and liberal arts degrees, run university newspapers, and more. I am a science major, and have only retained any semblance of non-scientific writing because of the honors track I was in at my undergrad, and also that, to be blunt, I hate scientific writing. It’s incredibly dull and kills people’s creativity. But I’m afraid that my writing is tainted by a combination of creativity-killing science and my innate awkward personalityand I sometimes feel that I spastically word-vomit onto the page and hope for the best. I often look back at some of my far better pieces and wonder if I’ll ever convey thoughts as eloquently as I did in that instance. Especially in those days, or weeks, when mind-numbing writer’s block (the struggle is so real) prompts the thought that some day my wee fountain of article ideas will run dry, and that will be the end of my brief writing venture.

I write about topics I’m passionate about, or topics that I can wax passionately sarcastic or ridiculous about. The few (maybe more?) truly bum articles that I’ve written have been on topics that I thought I could write about and once I sat down to do it, realized that I couldn’t care less. But I can’t be passionate about everything, can I? That would be so exhausting, and darlings, it’s already exhausting to be me.

Furthermore, when my brain dips into the valley of depression, it’s hard to feel anything at all except for the blanket hopelessness and sadness. I suppose, to some degree, I’ve been dabbling in that valley for a month or so now and there’s nothing quite as creativity-killing and self-doubt-producing as depression. Unfortunately, it’s fairly normal for me to be more depressed at this time of the year, and so I keep trudging through and hope things will lighten up soon.

But, despite all of the lingering self-doubt that my competitive and comparing mind fosters, I have continued to write for the past seven months. I have ideas, and some small part of me believes I have talent, and so I continue to write. I write because in my grueling, and rather soul-crushing, grad program, it is what brightens my days as I connect with a world outside of the dank grad school closet that I’ve been stuck in for the past two years. I write because it keeps the creative flame in my brain burning, even when I’ve been staring at dry research articles for days on end. I write, even though I often doubt that I’m a decent writer, and the weeks and months have gone by, and I’m still here. So I guess there’s a small amount of consolation right there.

View Comments (4)
  • Power to the writers who somehow have degrees in science! (Shall we start our own little special club?) Your words are beautiful Kelsey, never stop writing.

  • Spastic word vomit is where it’s at. Getting it out of your brain and being able to sculpt it afterwards is (for me) the fun part. If I didn’t write thousands of extra words that I later have to look at and say, “Who cares about this tangent, Liz, SERIOUSLY?” I don’t think I would ever get anything out ever. Sharing your writing is an act of bravery that I truly respect, and I have greatly enjoyed what I’ve read of your work.

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