This is part of the occasional series Wednesday Words for Writers. Check out previous posts on the letter A and the letter B.
This post comes from a recent response I made to one of the academic writers that I coach over at Academic Writing Club. She was feeling stuck in self-doubt as a result of getting some critical feedback about her article. Academic reviews can be brutal. Here is what I wrote to her:
I’m sorry you are having a crisis of confidence. It is so normal, especially in the backwash of a critical review that seems uninterested in human learning. Here are a few ideas for how to unstick yourself…
1. focus with meditation and quiet breathing and make space to write by eliminating as many distractions as possible;
2. start with free-writing to release the feelings and worries, a process that can loosen the blockades and allow your own voice to come back to center;
3. talk with a colleague about the review and what you think you need to do to revise your article (sometimes connection works better; sometimes solitary focus works better);
4. make a list of all options for your response to the review – let it alone for an hour or overnight; then look to see . . . what rises up from your list as a priority you want to pursue? what can you let go?
5. break down the tasks for revision and response into the smallest size pieces and put them in priority order to work through one by one (bird by bird).
6. What would you add to this list? What works for you when trying to get out of the confidence crisis?
Most writers I know can stand a reminder of what do or where to turn when finding themselves in the quicksand of self-doubt. That sinking feeling is precisely when clear thinking and problem solving slink out of reach. Distant or anonymous critiques have a way of bringing us up short. So reach for these ideas to pull you out of the sinking sand and roll gently back to more solid ground. Let me know what helps you with the crisis of confidence. Unlike that anonymous reviewer . . . I’m very interested in human learning, yours as well as my own.
This post brought to you by the letter C.