Thursday, May 9, 2013
Four tips for overcoming doubt from an OCD sufferer
Writer's seem to have a lot of self-doubt, even award winning New York Times best sellers experience it; that crippling feeling that often manifests as writer's block. I've had bouts of writers self doubt myself (Some bouts were so bad my mental state looked worse than Rocky after 15 rounds against Apollo Creed) but I'm uniquely adjusted to doubt, when I was a pre-teen I was diagnosed with OCD often called the "Disease of doubt", and have been living with it my entire adult life. I'm not going to go too deep into details about my OCD but if you are curious about the disorder Wikipedia's article on the matter is a good starting point: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Obsessive–compulsive_disorder
Living with OCD isn't fun, and I wouldn't choose it but it has forced me to develop certain skills, and dealing with self-doubt is a survival skill when you have OCD. So here are my four tips for dealing with self-doubt, that started as anti-OCD tricks and become writer's tricks.
1.) Have an inspiration collection.
An inspiration collection is a collection of movie clips, quotes, web-pages, songs, and other stuff to go to that inspire you and motivate you personally, not stuff that simply inspired you to write what you are working on now but stuff that moves you as a person. Doubt in your writing ability is doubt in yourself, and you need to find the things that resonate in your core and get your engine roaring again.
I have quotes from famous philosophers to anime characters, and songs from across multiple music genres. Draw inspiration from whatever has meaning to you at the core of your being and return to it when you are in doubt.
One of my personal favorites is this Tv Tropes page:
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/Determinator (Real life - Artists, Entrepreneurs and Scientists)
2.) Take a nap.
This may not always be possible but I've found a quick one-two hour nap can wipe away self-doubt better than a full night's rest.
3.) Push forward, regardless.
Sometimes the doubt is so crippling it makes it hard to even think about what to write, writer's block hits you hard. Sometimes the block is huge, getting over it seems impossible and ones inability to get over it throws them further into self-doubt. Sometimes the only way past writer's block and to go straight through it, push for more words however small, work that block away until there is nothing left but shavings. This goes for any profession or problem that's too big to simply hurdle over.
This is the one I have to use the most dealing with OCD myself, sometimes you can't stop you just have to keep moving forward no matter what. There may be a massive block in your way, looming over you. Your mind is racing and the anxiety won't stop but you just need to grit your teeth, plant your feet into the ground and start (metaphorically) beating on the block, bare-fisted if you have to.
4.) Talk to someone/vent.
Sometimes getting it off your chest to someone willing to just listen is very relieving, or just saying it aloud. Get that doubt out of just your head it's only going to bounce around and build momentum up there.
Seriously before writing this I tweeted out how I thought I wasn't going to write an article this week due to me having trouble sleeping and being tired, but here I am a few hours later writing an article on overcoming self-doubt and finding inner determination.
Those are my four tips for over-coming self-doubt, I'm sure there are others without OCD who have learned these skills as well but I thought I'd share. So how do you overcome doubt?