Have a Little Faith in You

Most normal human beings have inner critics. I think that writers and creative types get to hear them more clearly because we spend so much time inside our heads, which is bad enough, but I’ve heard that we have more to contend with than that rotten little guy who whispers in our ears that our words are rubbish and the world will die laughing if we ever publish them. Apparently it’s normal human behaviour to sabotage ourselves. That’s according to Freud by the way – he called it the death wish, and although I have absolutely no clue what the theory behind it is, I can’t deny that he’s right. This is more insidious than actually thinking that you’ll never succeed. It’s an unconscious attempt to stop you from succeeding by distracting you apparently. Could be we’re born that way, or maybe the ways that we are raised can also contribute to the unconscious belief that you’re never going to have what it takes to be a rock star so why bother trying – rather do the easy thing that you know you’ll get right. Get a proper job and stop reaching for stars you have no way of attaining.

Maybe we’re designed this way so that anything worth doing is going to take work to make us grow. Maybe overcoming obstacles to achieve things, and make more of ourselves is the whole point of why we’re here, and every little thing that you do or don’t do is important. Makes sense. I’ve often wondered about why it is that sometimes just about anything can seem more important to be doing than writing right now. Or the mind won’t stop wandering. No matter how hard you try and concentrate on what you’re trying to write, thoughts of the most arbitrary things constantly intrude. Flashes of how cool it would be to go watch a movie and eat cake. Or dire warnings that if the dishes aren’t washed right now something terrible will happen. It’s hard to concentrate on writing your book when you yourself is trying to knobble you. How do you fight yourself off and finish writing your novel?

I think that maybe the secret is not viewing your inner critic as part of you, and don’t see this strange inner force that’s trying to stop you from achieving your goals as part of you either. Visualise them as little ugly trolls in there, and then visualise a muse for yourself with a sledgehammer beating them right out of there. Writing is hard, and writing is important. The words writers share with the world inspire, teach, and bring joy, so getting your work finished is important. Maybe that’s why writers find it so difficult sometimes to get on with things – maybe the more important the work, the more challenges will be tossed your way to stop you. Apart from your listed goals for your writing, and a little bit of discipline, you must have a hearty belief in yourself and refuse to let these intrusions happen. The minute they creep in, just let them firmly know that you are indeed a writer, that you will indeed finish and publish your novel, and force them out by replacing insulting inner troll words, doubts, and urges to scrub the toilet straight away with the thoughts of future readers enjoying the words and stories that you were born to share. Follow your destiny scribblers, no matter what anyone without or within has to say. This life is entirely yours to choose what to do with, and believing in yourself is vital – you’ll be amazed at how well the words flow when you do. Your job is to make sure that the eyes out there who need to read your words one day have the chance to do so.

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Image Credit: Unsplash

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12 thoughts on “Have a Little Faith in You”

  1. I prefer a less violent solution. Maybe seeing the words go into a cloud and floating away? Lately it seems like I am self-sabotaging. I cut some corners, then find that somehow that has blown back in my face.

    I learned about “death wish” when I was working with troubled teens. It is something a bit more extreme than what you are saying here. The gang members have a death wish as they believe when they are gone, people will cry for them they way they do for others who have died. Ever heard of “suicide by cop”? That is more of a death wish.
    I really do think what you are talking about is more like self-sabotage. It is much easier to deal with than a death wish.

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  2. Happens to me a lot, Jo. Usually just be before going to bed and knowing that a post has not done well. The trolls have a great time telling me to give up on writing and blogging, but then when I wake up in the morning and turn on the computer and see all the ‘like’ and comment notifications, they all make a run for it.

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  3. Hi Jo, thanks for blogging this, as a poet, I often have the same problem, but have been writing a novel on and off, and find the length of it more challenging. I can write a good poem in half an or or less, but it does not make sense to write a novel only half an hour a day. I used to run creative writing afternoons for the libraries in Johannesburg, and found that the people attending wrote very well, but had absolutely no confidence in their abilities, so it was interesting to watch them grow, and begin to publishing. Being dyslectic (I always have to use word spell to get this word right) was a bit of a challenge as I grew up believing that I was stupid, and was incapable of creating anything of consequence, so am growing through my blog, so it is easy to motivate my daily poem. Best wishes and blessings, Charles.

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  4. Thanks for this. I thought there was a real little guy talking in my ear. I thought it might have been Sigmund Freud, but then again he’s dead, apparently due to some death wish complex.

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