The Doubt Monster

So, the Doubt Monster (as my Soul Mate sister Casey Wyatt has named it), is rearing her ugly head.

The DM is that voice in your head that tells you you can’t do anything right. She tells you that your last chapter stinks, that your pacing is slow, that you can’t write and you might as well give up.

That’s what she tells me, anyway.

Now, I happen to be one of those people who thinks the DM serves a purpose. The DM reminds me that my work is not perfect on the first pass, which, honestly, is not something I heard often in college. I was always a one draft and done kind of girl. More than once, it was a “one draft after a  long night down the pub” and done. I could do it in German, even. (I had this theory that my German was always better a few beers in.) I’d turn that stuff in, knowing I could do better, and still get high marks.

That means I’m a great writer, right? One draft and then I can ship my masterpiece off?

But that’s not how it works with a novel. A single draft is never going to get me noticed, because there’s always something I can improve. This is where the DM is helpful for someone like me. I want my “baby” to be perfect, so I polish and I polish and I polish until I think it’s beautiful.

Then I sit on it for  a few days, and the DM starts nagging at me.

“Chapter Two is too slow,” she says in a brittle, angry voice that reminds me of someone else (no, I’m not sharing who.)

“You use the word darkness too many times.” (It’s true, I do. I love that word. There’s something eery and wonderful about the dark. I usually listen to her when she tells me this one.)

“For the love of God, woman, could your middle be any more boring?”

So the DM drives me to fix those things that I see as problematic.

But the DM is occasionally cruel, because then we have conversations like this:

“This is awful. Put it under the bed and forget it exists. Because seriously, you’re better at macrame.”

“But I can’t do macrame,” I complain.

“Don’t we both know it.”

The DM can be such a bitch.

So when the DM starts nagging at me, unless she has something constructive to say, I have to figure out a way to get her to shut up.

Here are the top five things I do:

1. I write. And while I write, I say to myself, “I don’t suck. I don’t suck. I don’t suck.” I remind myself it’s a draft and I can always fix it.

2. I edit something else, maybe something the DM isn’t attacking at that moment.

3. I listen to music while I write… That way, I can’t hear the DM when she starts in on her rants.

4. Sometimes, just to spite her, I’ll hit send on a query. Take that! After all, it’s best to strike the first blow. Maybe, if I hit her hard enough, she won’t get up again (she always does. Bitch is like Rocky Balboa.)

5. I remind myself that there are a great many things I am good at. For instance, I can drop the term derhotacization in casual conversation. I know other big words, too. Like mountain and reindeer. I’m smart like that.

So, what do you do to combat the great and powerful DM?

4 thoughts on “The Doubt Monster”

  1. I love that your Doubt Monster is a girl. Maybe my Doubty and yours could get together and make babies. Think of the havoc they could release upon the world. Muwhaha!

    But seriously, since I started my WIP this weekend, I already hear him. At the moment, he’s not allowed to play. Now that I’m onto him, I ignore him. He’s allowed to “assist” me while I assess weak spots after the first draft is completed.

    I like your steps. I have another one – Tell Ms. Doubt Monster that you are a sexier pirate and that fishnet stockings make her thighs look fat. So there!

    1. I am a way sexier pirate! Thanks!

      I think I’d be scared if our DM’s got together and had little doubty babies. The havoc! I’d never be able to get put of bed!

      Thanks for stopping by, Casey!

  2. Oh my, yes, I have one too. I dont know if it’s a male or female, but it hits deep. Great post! My doughter comes out most when I’m editing, because that is where I’m least confident in the writing process, but that’s what great crit partners ate for 🙂

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