Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Introducing The Doubt Box

Last night kicked off the Summer, 2014, #Write2TheEnd Writers Workshop in St. Joseph, Michigan. We met the writers who had signed up, learned what their goals are for the next eight weeks, and discussed initial strategies for achieving those goals.

(At #W2TE, every participant who meets his or her self-determined goal by the end of the workshop receives $100. Co-facilitator Kim Jorgensen Gane and I are committed to doing everything in our power to help participants get that hundred bucks.)

I'm the Roll-Up-Your-Sleeves, No Excuses, Get To Work type. I love to present writers with tools for organizing their content, improving their productivity, and making the creative process easier.

In a sense, I'm the Activities Organizer. But Kim is the Emotional Core. Case in point:

How big must it be to hold all your doubts?
When we were preparing our presentations, Kim mentioned an exercise she had planned. She brought out a lovely, little blue box with a hinged lid. "This is the Doubt Box," she told me. "I'm going to have people to write out the doubts that are holding them back on the project they want to finish. Then they'll divest themselves of those doubts and put them in the box for the duration of the workshop."

I did not laugh. But I am a lousy actor, and "You've got to be kidding" must have shown clearly on my face.

"What?" said Kim. "Don't you like the Doubt Box?"

"It's not that I don't like it," I told her. "Exercises like that -- touchy-feely things -- just don't resonate with me. But that doesn't make them less valid. So, by all means, hit them with the Doubt Box. Oh, and by the way, can we burn the doubts at the end of the workshop? I can get into that. Because... fire!"

Kim humored me and nodded. So I am totally looking forward to the Doubt Flambe of the final session. But I digress...

Don't carry your doubts with you.
They'll weigh you down as you venture into the unknown.
During our first session, Kim talked about the importance of writers allowing themselves to see themselves as artists. Of claiming creative time and jealously guarding it against the vagaries of life. (No, she didn't use the word "vagaries." I'm paraphrasing.) She talked about the realities of unpublished writers sometimes seeing their work as frivolous, or themselves as frauds.

Then she brought out the Doubt Box.

As soon as she mentioned it and named it, before she'd even had a chance to fully explain her plan for it, our wonderful #Write2TheEnd participants grabbed pen and paper and began writing. They got it. Immediately.

The Doubt Box quickly accumulated pieces of paper -- each one a doubt that was weighing someone down, keeping that person from charging into the fray and tackling the writing endeavor that fed her soul. As the Doubt Box filled, the participants grew noticeably more positive -- more ready to get to work.

This. This is what #Write2TheEnd is all about. It's about finding ways to help writers commit to a project they love. It's about networking with others who share similar goals, but who may not have the same core approach as you. It's about being willing to divest yourself of doubts, and get writing.

What doubts are weighing you down? You can put them in a Doubt Box of your own. Share them below, then let them go. Put them in the comment box, and get them off of your back and out of your mind!


  1. You kind of already mentioned this one---my husband views my writing as a hobby (I'm a recovering lawyer). This makes it more difficult for me to see it as more than a hobby even though it feels like it deserves a weightier descriptor. I'm going to find a big ol' doubt box and banish my doubts there. Thanks for sharing this idea.

  2. Suzanne,

    My pleasure! Here's hoping that your doubts remain banished in a box where they can't interfere with your writing.

    Your comment on viewing one's writing as a hobby, when we *know* it is so much more than that, provided the impetus for the post that will appear on Monday. There, I share the real-world experience (of a lawyer, no less!) that inspired me to shed that particular albatross. I hope it proves as useful to you.

    Onward and upward!