Battling the self-doubt demon

NECROPOLIS: Craters, Crevices & Creativity

Battling the self-doubt demon

by Monica Kagan

The Western Cape in South Africa has been experiencing a lengthy severe drought for the past few years. Coincidently, I am going through something of a writing drought at the moment. We had a long weekend in South Africa. The public holiday is called Heritage Day (24 September), which is a day for celebrating our diverse cultures in South Africa. I spent most of the weekend in bed, because I couldn’t summon the energy to get up. I still go through days, weeks, sometimes months without writing anything.

Here is a short poem that expresses how I feel:

Nil by pen

                     by Monica Kagan

Ideas I have a plenty, but they are all empty

Bereft of my creativity

Plummeting below the weight of cemented self-doubt

Talent in abundance I crave

But mediocrity I fear

is drawing near

So it is then:

Nil by pen

Cheryl Strayed, the American writer who wrote the bestselling memoir called "WILD" tells writers to "embrace your mediocrity". I find this helps me to keep writing in spite of my feelings that I'm not good enough. During an interview with Marie Forleo on MarieTV, Ms Strayed talked about wanting to write the Great American Novel in her 20s. She said that this dream made it very difficult for her to write anything at all. So she stopped putting herself under such pressure and decided instead to give herself permission to be "mediocre". I try to keep this in mind when I write so that I can keep going even when it feels like what I'm producing is not very good.

Another thing that sometimes helps me write is that I belong to a wonderful FB writers' group called The Dragon Writers. The group consists of newbie writers and experienced writers, and is a very supportive community. Belonging to this group has encouraged me to write when I don't feel like it.

I feel so much better having written this (admittedly brief) column today. It's a move in the right direction (no pun intended)!

Thank you


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