On Contradiction: optimism and self-doubt

I’m an optimist. I’ve always considered myself thus and, I should think, will continue to do so. I am such an optimist that the pessimism or honest-to-goodness, down-to-earth realism of others frustrates me. Not so much that it colours my opinion of them, though. It just knocks my confidence and brings on a nagging self-doubt.

I suffer with self-doubt quite badly. I don’t know if this is unusual for optimists but it has always been the case with me. Nowhere is this highlighted to me more than when I write this blog; you may have noticed that a lot of what I’ve written so far is self-critical (“I’m a coward”) or self-correcting.

Now, neither of these things are intrinsically bad: optimism can lead to confidence and a drive to do things in the belief that “it’ll turn out for the best in the end” and self-doubt can force a need for everything to be just-so.

Together, though, and certainly in my paricular case, rather than play off one-another and drive me forward they work against one-another and lead to continuous ‘faffing’ with whatever it is I’m doing at the time.

As an example, I write slowly. I can do small bursts of about 500 words or so in an hour but then I’ll need to leave the keyboard alone and recharge my attention-span. Even so, the 500 words that I write will not necessarily be ‘new’ writing; they are frequently rewrites or editing. As a result, it takes ages for me to get anywhere with a story as I’m always checking it over. By comparison, I’ve now written 20-or so blog posts ABOUT writing..! It seems as though I’m a prolific writer when it comes to ‘faff’ or ‘fluff’ (the story of the story) but sodding useless when it comes down to actually DOING THE WORK!

And then I talk to other people or read blogs or tips sites. And, as helpful as they are, I ALWAYS come away feeling as though I will never actually write anything worth reading. One or two people might read this and recognise recent conversations feeding in, here. I don’t want those people to think I’m being ungrateful as their input has and will continue to be a great help and source of comfort. Honestly, it’s just my newbieness to the whole thing that’s doing this to me.

So, once more, why have I felt it necessary to bare my soul to all who read this? Well, primarily, catharsis. I get embarrassed whenever I talk openly about these things face-to-face so writing this blog allows me to get stuff off my chest without that embarrassment. Secondly, putting my thoughts and feelings on screen forces me to really think about them; I can then almost deal with them as though they were someone else’s and offer myself practical advice. In this case, I’ve told myself that the advice is all good: just sit down and write and the side of me that writes blog posts so prolifically will eventually take control of my creative side and the work will flow.

Finally, I’d like to point out that parenthood has forced my to learn to type whilst entertaining small children. This whole post took 20 minutes to write WITH ONE HAND!


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