Fear and Doubt: The Usual Suspects

Today has been a little bit of a struggle. My inner critic is being more vocal than usual. And the Fear Monster–who looks something like a cross between the Grinch and Smaug, the dragon from The Hobbit–is telling me to abandon my dreams because they are too ambitious. So far this morning, I have written one scene and played around with watercolors. It is almost 1 p.m. I feel like a total failure.

Here’s my story: I am taking six months off from other work to finish the manuscript of a novel I started last summer during one of my final college courses. I also wanted to make time for other creative pursuits that I have put on the back burner for some time, including drawing and painting. I pledged to myself that I would savor this time, and do my writing from a place of joy whenever possible. Overall, I have been loving this time, but the start of April was the start of Month Four, and I am starting to get worried.

Now, I have actually made a lot of progress. It’s just that I am absolutely terrified that I’m not going to finish my novel in time. And to me, not finishing within the time I set for myself means FAILURE in all capital letters. As you can imagine, I am putting a lot of pressure on myself.

What do I do? According to SARK, (who is an amazing artist and thinker, by the way. If you haven’t heard of her, check her out), it often helps to take the tiniest step imaginable toward our goal. Most of us tend to plan ambitiously, but this can lead to feeling overwhelmed and discouraged. SARK recommends taking small steps forward, and when in doubt, making them even smaller. I have trouble believing that tiny steps will get me anywhere. But a tiny step forward is better than no step at all, I suppose. Here’s to baby steps!

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