I grew up watching sports (not playing – yuck 🙂 ) – and you can’t find better motivational sayings than in athletics. The advertisers around sports can be pretty amazing, too. Just Do It by Nike (or most commercials really by Nike) transcends.
Of course you need a lot of motivation when most likely you will fail. 68 basketball teams were involved 2015 March Madness, but only one took home the championship trophy. 67 other teams ended their season on a loss (ugh). With those kinds of stats, self doubt creeps in, so coaches and players need some stellar motivation. Both the University of Oklahoma and Notre Dame have a sign in their locker room and take on away games. It simply states – Play Like A Champion Today. Players touch (or often hit) the sign on their way out to the field to remind them why they are there.
I have never met a writer (or almost anyone for that matter) who doesn’t have at least a little self doubt. When you first begin writing, phrases like “You’ll never be as good as XX” or “Do you really think anyone will ever want to read this?” float through your mind the moment you pick up the pen. Then as you become more seasoned, there’s the always pleasant “This will probably get rejected, too”. It doesn’t stop when you become published, now it’s “This won’t be as good as your last book” and “your agent is going to drop you” as well as every 2 Star review or bad comment you’ve read on the Internet join together. Many people call this your internal editor, and he or she is the worst kind of jerk. My plan used to be get up at 5:30 every morning because the editor just isn’t awake that early.
Why does self doubt have to creep into everything? My personal view (cobbled together from dozens of articles I’ve read over time) is this is survival at its most basic. Your mind is preparing you for all that can go wrong so you can be aware, plan, prepare and survive. (Thank you self doubt!) You’ve seen the danger, now it’s fight or flight time.
Only your project isn’t a charging mastodon, so sometimes that fight or flight instinct doesn’t engage and we’re stuck in self doubt. Here are a few things that have worked for me (and feel free to share if you have your own).
- Recognize doubt for what it is – part of the process – thank it and move on.
- Remember what made you excited about your project in the first place, harness that joy.
- Create a motivational ritual. Now normally, I’m against having writing rites because sometimes these can be used as excuses, “Oh, I can’t write today because I didn’t drink my special coffee.” But I have a little sign near my computer that says Write Like A Champion and if I’m writing in a notebook, I usually jot it down somewhere – today I will fight the mastodon, I will write like a champion.
Now go WRITE LIKE A CHAMPION!!!