A wonderful writer and online friend is making a guest appearance on MJ Rose's blog every Friday starting today. Sue O'Doherty, PhD, is a psychologist specializing in issues affecting writers, and is no slouch herself. (And, in the interest of full disclosure, she has a lovely essay in It's a Boy.)
Today she tackles two questions from writers, one on envy and one on self-doubt. In response to the writer who grapples with self-doubt, Dr. Sue replies:
- Paul Cézanne once said that each time he finished painting an apple, he believed he had solved the problem of painting apples. But then, when he moved on to the next apple, it was an entirely new apple, and he had to start all over again. ... When you feel yourself falling into the trap of self-doubt, take out a piece of paper and write the following: "This is new territory. I am an explorer." Tack it up on your bulletin board. Look at it once an hour, and write it over again if necessary. Remind yourself that the most important work you are doing is in the process itself. You are discovering and recording aspects of yourself and the world that are uniquely yours. If this were easy, there would be no point to it. You are mapping out new territory, and it may be harrowing—and, for that matter, you may not arrive at the destination you had set out for. But you will experience wonders along the way, and you will transmit them to paper to the best of your ability.