Intrusive self-doubt wriggles its way in long before the first draft is done, builds a little nest, and breeds both contempt and self-loathing. Most of the time, I manage to work around the annoyance by tip-toeing over the bits of work I find disturbing and by finding detours around things I don't fully understand.
But sometimes... I let it gnaw at me and discard a project entirely because I'm not ready to make it work.
And that's not cool.
For the past month, I have been revising Remember Newvember, a chick-lit novel I wrote six years ago. Not only does the cover need refreshing, the interior is in desperate need of a good spring cleaning. While working on the edits, I found something I didn't even know I was missing.
When I wrote Remember Newvember in 2009, as a NaNoWriMo project, I didn't have any expectations. It was the first manuscript I'd written in over fifteen years, and I did it for fun. The only thing I had to focus on was writing 1600 words a day until I'd reached 50 000. I didn't worry about offending anyone, copyright, character development, or grammar. I didn't care if the content was repetitious, juvenile, or inaccurate. I just wrote for the simple delight of putting words on paper.
And you know what? There's a freshness about this novel that isn't present in my more recent works. It's clunky and difficult to read at times, but the honesty in the writing shines through in every word. It's not likely I'll ever get that level of innocence back - there are no do-overs on first-time accomplishments - but I can take myself a little less seriously and leave the self-doubt and criticism for the editing process.
I might not have eradicated the beast, otherwise known as self-doubt, but I think I might have found an effective weapon against it. It's called joy, and it's the reason I write.