Category Archives: self doubt

Ethel

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Ethel

I was inspired to start writing a book a few weeks ago, I’ve been obsessed with it ever since. It’s like falling in love or making a new best friend…you want to pour all of your time and energy into it. Of course this doesn’t happen without a little slippage in other areas. There are still just 24 hours in a day, the creative Gods can’t give you more. This turns you into a criminal as you steal time from other parts of  your life.

Time communicating with loved ones gets curtailed, the laundry and dirty dishes pile up and you resent any intrusions. Even the dog gets annoying with her whining about whatever dog woes she’s experiencing. Sorry Fluffy, I don’t have time to deal with your existential crisis right now…5 more pages and I’ll rub your belly. She just grunted at me as she plopped her large dog body onto her bed next to my desk.

It’s been a roller coaster these past few weeks. The peaks of creative spontaneity hammered down by the crushing blows of self doubt. Self doubt is the monster that lives in your head and tells you how terrible you are at everything. My self doubt has migrated from a tap on my shoulder to a hand around my throat and she’s squeezing pretty hard. I keep shaking her off and she comes back over an over again like the protagonist in a bad horror movie.

I went to a writer conference last August and attended a session on self doubt. The facilitator was Danny Gregory and he spoke about his book – Shut Your Monkey. https://dannygregorysblog.com/category/books/shut-your-monkey/ – Instead of a monkey, my take away from that day was to envision my self doubt as an elderly prairie dog named Ethel.

Ethel usually dons granny glasses and a knitted sweater vest. Sometimes she’s cute but lately she’s gotten more critical and suddenly she’s wearing a hockey mask and carrying a long sharp knife like Jason from Friday the 13th. She’s starting to scare me. I’d love to draw her for you but as Ethel as already reminded me several times today, I can’t draw for shit.

The worst part about this recent internal war is that I feel like I’m taking innocent people with me along for the ride. I have an illustrator that I’m working with and a handful of friends that are giving me feedback on my progress. Self doubt was bad enough when it was a solo act, now it feels indulgent. I mean it’s bad enough to spend time frivolously writing the hours away, now you want people to read it and comment. And dear Gawd that poor illustrator, she has a family and clients that pay her…real money.

Ethel: You can’t do this to people. It’s bad enough you waste your own time on this “hobby”. Now you are dragging your friends into this nonsense.

Me: Shut up Ethel you aren’t helping.

Ethel: It’s not like you’re even writing anything meaningful. Humor, who are you to write humor. What makes you think…..

….and that’s when I put a stick of Acme dynamite up Ethel’s ass and blew her up Wylie Coyote style.

 

 

 

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My Monkey is a Prairie Dog

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My Monkey is a Prairie Dog

I attended my first Writer’s Digest Conference this past weekend in New York City. It was an interesting mix of topics ranging from improving your craft to branding and more. Lots of options for newbies and veterans alike.

I noticed a recurring theme with the variety of sessions that I attended. Writers were consistent in their suggestion to the audience members to “find your own voice”, be authentic, use your personal experiences to filter through your writing. The business end was more cautious – be authentic but not so much that you lose market share. Sigh…mixed messages. Be authentic…..BUT…..everyone knows anything after BUT is bullshit. Guess I’ll just keep offending people and not make money writing for now….double sigh.

One workshop was titled “Shut Your Monkey! How to Control Your Inner Critic and Get More Writing Done.” It was facilitated by Danny Gregory. He wrote a book about it in case you are so inclined….https://www.amazon.com/Shut-Your-Monkey-Control-Critic/dp/1440341133

It was an interesting topic which sadly afflicts a majority of humans. That inner voice that says you suck, you’re stupid, are you really going to eat that? The asshole that lives inside your head and spreads doubt like pixie dust in a Disney movie. Apparently most humans (except psychopaths) have this negative voice that we constantly shush. Danny Gregory calls his a monkey…..I prefer to think of mine as a prairie dog. I never know where that bitch is going to pop up. She’s kind of cute and kind of annoying and damn unpredictable. What’s your monkey?