Tuesday, October 23, 2012
Invoking 'American Idol' to banish self-doubt
Here it is: my book. I've been letting it sit for a couple weeks. Why? I thought taking a break from the intensity of writing every day would provide me with some perspective, which would make my anticipated editing process productive.
But the time away from writing delivered an unwelcome side effect. That distance, which I planned to make my ally, delivered a bully: self-doubt. This doubt has been slowly eroding my confidence, leaving unsettling questions in its wake. What the heck do I think I'm doing? What makes me think I am among the the elite 1% of writers whose queries will be accepted by an agent and publisher? How will I succeed with so few contacts and a thin resume?
Turning these questions over in my mind results in an inertia that's hard to overcome. This is when I look for inspiration, because I know I cannot be frightened by the challenges I face. Instead, I must overcome them.
Where do I get my fix of inspiration? Reality TV. This may seem like an unlikely source of inspiration for a 40-somthing woman, but a night of American Idol, Project Runway or Bethenny Frankel fills me with ambition. Why? The people on these shows are ordinary, yet they've achieved the extraordinary by aggressively pursuing their goals, believing in themselves, working hard, and handling their fears. If an American Idol contestant half my age can achieve the impossible, I think, why can't I? If an aspiring designer can create a beautiful product from a blank canvas, I wonder, why can't I? If Bethenny Frankel can build an empire at age 40, I begin to believe, why can't I?
And so, I'm carrying these people as my cheering section. Self-doubt, I have come to understand, is the enemy of achievement. It won't take hold of me.