You’ve probably heard the phrase, ‘write what you know’. If we all took that advice literally there’d be no end to the mundane stories and books out there. Instead we take that advice to mean that we should use out experiences and feelings to inform our work.
We all have different pulls on our time. For me, I have two children (aged 4 and 6), a husband (although he’s pretty self-sufficient it’s nice to actually spend time with him), a writing career that I’m trying to get started, family, friends, neighbours, chores, pets, hobbies, a ‘to-read’ pile. You might have all these and more. The fact is, we all need to balance our lives otherwise we end up overwhelmed and under-satisfied.
Have you heard that saying, “When in doubt, chuck it out.”? I think it’s applied to food. As in that chicken that’s a day past it’s use by date but it looks OK and you haven’t got anything else to cook for dinner but there’s definitely some doubt as to whether you’ll give the entire family food poisoning or not.
The bit that catches me though, is the ‘when in doubt’ part. Because when aren’t I in doubt. And when I watch my sons, who are now 6 (almost 7 Mum) and 4 (almost 5 and a big boy Mum), they’re often dealing with doubts too. So doubt seems to be a normal part of life.
I have a lot of doubt about my abilities as a writer and my abilities to make writing into a paying career. But I think there’s some things that I (and you) can do to take control of doubt.
1. Get feedback. Honest feedback. Honest but constructive feedback. Because nothing assuages the doubt like someone telling you, one way or the other, whether something you’ve done is crap or not (in the nicest possible way.)
2. Get educated. Read a website or a book or go to a course and find out if that thing you’ve done and your not sure about was actually done in the best way…and how you can do it in the best way.
3. Get perspective. Are you being to hard on yourself? Or unrealistic with your goals? Do your doubts stem from the fact that you’ve only just started something but you’d like it be further along than it is? If so, it might be time to take a walk and think it through. You might find that you can think yourself out of your doubts.
So, when faced with doubts, I’m going to give these strategies a concerted effort. Because while doubt can be useful it can also be crippling if you’re not controlling it.
What doubts do you have? And how do you keep them in check?
I’m going to be taking a break for December and January. Of course, when I say break I’ll still be working on my novel, looking after my kids and everything else that goes with life. But I’ll be taking a break from Pieces of String.
When I come back there’ll be more tips for young writers, more book reviews, more blog posts and, I’m hoping, monthly writing competitions.
I look forward to seeing you all in the New Year.
Lots of love…
Things are getting busy in my house. Well, can I still call it my house now that we’ve sold it? And the thing about busy times is something has to give. Continue reading
Today B1 started school. In Victoria we call in Prep and so now, instead of saying that I’m the mother of two pre-schoolers, I’m the mother of a prep and a pre-schooler.
When I was teaching, and bare in mind I was a high school teacher, I found parents somewhat strange – like exotic animals whose behaviour I didn’t really understand. To be fair I was in my early 20s and closer in age to their children then I was to them. I found their expectations (voiced or otherwise) overwhelming. Some of them were protective to the point of bubble wrapping their house, others wouldn’t have known where their children were five nights out of seven. Some of them were dumbfounded by the change in their children following the onset of puberty and were looking for answers – answers I had neither the training nor the life experience to give them.
Now my child has started school. I spent the first six months of his life wishing the time would pass quicker – please sleep, please feed less, please smile, please laugh – and now I don’t know where the time has gone. How did it pass so quickly?
And boy do I have some high standards for my son’s teachers 😉
If your little cherub has started school for the first time this year and you’re feeling a little lost (and maybe a little cheated by Father Time) then know you’re not alone. Like me, you might find it helps to remember what a big, exciting, adventure your child is beginning and that education is a gift and a privilege that not all children in the world are lucky enough to be given.
And it’s okay to cry…in private.