Let me start by saying I think too much introspection is unhealthy. Better to accomplish something, anything, than to think too hard and hobble yourself. Do something even if it’s wrong is my motto.
I was considering this morning how people who create, be they musicians, actors, artists or writers, often have a tough time getting out of their own heads. Early on in a career it can be a matter of questioning whether they can even do this thing, finish this novel, find the heart of this painting. But the question of whether there’s even any value to what they’ve created never really goes away. Am I saving a life? Effecting change in the world? Is it enough to simply entertain people, and am I even doing that successfully? Waaay too much thinking!
The infamous writer’s block is tied up in that self doubt. Only time and experience teaches the writer that the best way to destroy it is to keep on writing until she or he comes out the other side. Don’t be afraid to get input from critique partners when you’re stuck on a plot point, a logic lapse, or character issue. There’s no shame in taking advice from a helpful friend. If you still worry the finished piece is a steaming pile of dung, have your editor help whip it into shape, or if necessary, shelf it completely and move on.
But always move on to something else. Never give up–even in the face of crummy reviews or lackluster sales. It’s a take no prisoners approach that will move you forward not only in your career but in life, IMO. My belief is none of us should take ourselves too seriously. And when we start to fret or think too much, the prescription is to spend time with a pet. Dogs and cats don’t plan ahead. They just exist, content in the moment as we all should be.
Remember this wise advice from Stuart Smalley.