Saturday, August 22, 2009

Silence The Critics

Who are you to write this book? Who cares what you have to say? No one is going to read it! How ridiculous you're going to look.

These are a sampling of the voices that have been speaking to me lately. Who are these people? They are the very voice of my self-doubt and criticism. And I am so un-inviting them to my book party!!

Some background: I resigned from a great job in corporate communications about 18 months ago to pursue my passion - writing. Since then, I've been doing freelance work while also working on my book, Looking for the On Ramp: A Guide for Comeback Moms. As I get deeper and deeper into the book...and closer and closer to making my dream a reality...the thoughts above have been whispering into my ear.

Anne Lamott, one of my all-time favorite writers, describes the audience of voices that sit with her as she writes. "They are the voices of anxiety, judgment, doom, guilt....there may be a Nurse Ratched....." she explains.*

While it doesn't help to stifle the voices much, it does take some of the wind out of their sails. I realize this self-flagellation is all a part of the process, part of the human condition. And it certainly helps to know I'm not alone.

When I began my comeback to the business world, I remember a similar sense of self-doubt and fear. "Excel?!? I haven't used Excel for anything beyond creating a roster as a homeroom mom," I thought as I figured out how to create a spreadsheet. "Mail merge? No one said I needed to know that," I lamented as a wonderful colleague patiently sat with me - again - to show me how. "I am going to completely destroy the company's database," I feared as I walked myself through the query steps carefully.

Each of these voices seemed intent on shaking my confidence and sending me packing. However, I continued to will them into silence and worked on 'sharpening the saw,' a Steven Covey phrase that perfectly describes the importance of continual skill building and enhancement. Eventually, I became irritated enough with them and more comfortable with my abilities that they packed it in.

Comeback Moms have our own unwelcome whisperers who are keen to point out all sorts of things like your age, how long it's been since you've worked for pay, how hard it's going to be to get your resume together, how expensive it will be to go back to school, or how you're going to need a completely new wardrobe and hairstyle. In other words, these voices will try and shake your confidence and break you.


Instead, carry onward and upward. Tell them to get lost, that you don't have time for their foolishness, that you're too busy to listen to their nonsense, tell them to SCRAM! Then, take one step at a time closer to staging your comeback. Each small step gets you a bit closer to your goal. And each step makes the voices a bit harder to hear.

If you're working on your comeback, I'd love to hear how things are going. And if you've made a successful comeback already, zip me an email. Your journey and travel tips can help another woman on her way.

*Anne Lamott, Bird By Bird, Anchor Books, 1994, p.7.


Tawanda Bee said...

Smiling... I call the voices my "itty bitty shitty committee."

Renee Cooper said...

Hi Carol,

Thank you for the blog, it got me thinking. Yes, I am planning a come back. Or maybe I should call it a revival.
My dream is not to write a book, movie, I think I may have to. My dream is not to be a public speaker, but I feel I may have to. I maybe needed to help open up the ugly truth of child sexual abuse. Understanding and new solutions is what we need, and I feel I must help.
I wish I had your passion of writing and exposure being a realized dream, like you. For me it feels like I need to do this and then maybe it will unlock my true passion and dreams.
Here is my blog if you want to see how crazy I am.
I dream of freedom for me and prevention for other children, and better help for those who are healing.
Thank you for making me think of dreams and why.

Doreen McGettigan said...

I did it I wrote the book while listening to all those voices around me..I squashed them and I am now realizing my dream is about to come true.."Bristol Stomp" the true story of the murder of my younger brother is a few months away from being held in my hand..squash the negative and start each day with something positive even if it is just a nice cup of tea!!