Lack of belief in our abilities and the fear of being judged are the two things that stop most of us.
One of the most important ingredients for creating a successful writing project is believing you can do it. For some, it means writing twenty poems and posting them on a website; for others it means becoming a New York Times bestselling author. But for most of us, success is simply carving out time to write and adhering to a schedule, or finishing what Anne Lamott coined, a “shitty first draft.” Regardless of your goal, the idea is to have an intention and stick with the program.
Of course, there are always going to be obstacles on the path like negative thinking, judgment and self-criticism just waiting to sabotage your beliefs and efforts, but you can overcome these hurdles and others like procrastination, and time constraints, as well as lack of concentration and focus.
To provide you with a way stay afloat and keep moving forward when you suddenly hear the voice of your high school English teacher or other naysayers who have no faith in your abilities, please listen to the mp3, Eliminate the Judge, below.
Right-click (or Control-Click for MAC) the button and “save as” to choose where on your computer you want to save this recording.
Judgment from others is something we need to look at whenever we take on something new. In some cases, we may have been carrying around these beliefs about ourselves for many years, and don’t even realize the impact they have on our thoughts and actions.
Let’s suppose you’ve just moved into your first apartment and decide to invite your parents and siblings to dinner. Your mother, who is a really good cook, laughs and says, “Oh, honey, that’s a nice thought. But I really don’t think you can manage making dinner for the six of us. Remember how that Mother’s Day meal turned out when you were sixteen? Just come to my house.” An experience like this one can be a real setback. You may not have had any doubt about your ability when you invited the family for dinner, but one comment from your mother can bring up insecurity and self-doubt. Consider the following statements:
You can’t jump off the high dive. You’ll break your neck.
Jody, you’d be so pretty if only you lost thirty pounds.
Thomas, why can’t you be smart like your sister?
For the resilient, statements like these are merely obstacles to be overcome. However, for others they become brick walls, completely halting even an attempt at an action. Think of the people you know who never get around to doing things they say they want to do. What’s stopping them? What’s stopping you? It’s one thing to say you want to write a collection of essays or a novel, or that you want to make the family Thanksgiving dinner this year, but if deep down inside you don’t believe you’re good enough or you can succeed, you’ll sabotage your own efforts—by never starting in the first place or by blowing it in some way. You might even blame your kids, your job, your dog for what is really your own self-doubt. Fortunately, you don’t necessarily have to spend years in therapy to get past defeating ideas and on to success.
Criticism and judgment from others generally comes from our believing in those harmful or inaccurate statements others have said about us or to us in the past. Perhaps your parents identified your brother as the “artistic” one or you still hear the voice of your sixth grade teacher who said you’d be better off sticking to science and math. When we believe the perhaps well-meaning opinions (and that’s all they are), they can thwart us before we even begin, undermine our progress, and prevent us from attempting to start the work, even if they were made twenty years ago. It’s tied into our self-worth, and can become an insurmountable obstacle—but only if we let it.