The Paper Round Problem

This is you. I know this because this is me too. You have an idea and moreover you have a raging need to write it – but you also have a mortgage and bills and at times it is all very scary. The last thing you do is write.

Everything I’ve ever done, every job that has become a key part of my working life, has begun as a sideline desire. All of it. Whatever I was doing, whatever I am doing, there is something else that I fancy and I’m working at it late at nights. No question: late night tinkering leads to life-changing opportunities. Sometimes to life-changing necessities.

But late nights also lead to doubt. And the days that follow the late nights can be bad. Nothing happening, not with this tinkering, not with the day job, and the pressures are a wall with a mirror on it. It’s a mirror telling you that you should not be doing this thing, you should not be writing that thing.

It’s the mirror telling you that you should get a paper round instead. Something to bring in even a little bit of cash now is better than frittering away your life with this stupid idea of writing. What cuts so deep is that this is true. Often enough, anyway.

You can tell yourself that you are investing in your future – because you are – but that is a tough sell when your present is tough going. You need to pay the bills now but you need to do this tinkering because that will pay the bills in the future and because it is the tinkering that you’re here for. I don’t believe in souls because I’m not religious at all but I do believe in a need to be more than we are.

I’m here to write. I think you are too.

So let us do that, let us recognise the necessity of it in every sense. And, okay, sometimes we’ll see each other down the newsagent’s.

Nuts to self doubt

This is becoming a thing on The Blank Screen: articles about doubt, self-worth, worry, all that kind of thing. Anyone would think we are writers. Here’s a 9-part guide to why self-doubt is useless bollocks. I think there’s really only a couple of parts in it that are good and like you I hold on to the thought that a bit of self-doubt is better than a tonne of ego.

But I like this one. It’s about doubting your ability to make a decision: writer Minda Zetlin argues that you should go for it because:

You will survive a bad decision. This is often where I trip up. I tend to believe that a wrong decision will drag me down along with everyone around me. But few decisions are that powerful or that unchangeable. Nobody gets everything right all the time, so we’re all sure to have some of our decisions go south. It’s what we do afterward that makes the difference.

Nine Reasons to Conquer Self-Doubt and Start Believing in Yourself – Minda Zetlin, (8 December 2014)

Read the full feature.

Ugh. Positivity. Double ugh: it might work

I’m British, a writer and a journalist: I recoil at words like positivity and happiness. Only the words, you understand. The actual things, fine, good, great, whatever. But people who go around saying positivity and happiness, I just want them to leave before they start asking for donations on 1-800-BITE-ME.


The Positivity Blog has a shortish piece about the opposite of happy-clappy positivity: it’s about doubt. I’m British, a writer and a journalist: I am all doubt.

All Doubt, All the Time. Henrik Edberg suggests doing this:

First, when your inner doubts bubble up, be quick. Don’t let them spin out of control or grow from a whisper to a stream of discouraging sentences. Instead, talk back to that doubtful part of yourself.

In your mind, say or shout something like: No, no, no, we are not going down that road again.

By doing so you can disrupt the thought pattern and stop that inner self-doubter from taking over.

3 Powerful Steps to Stop Self-Doubt from Holding You Back in Life – Henrik Edberg, Positivity Blog (undated but probably 22 October 2014)

Read the full piece for the other two and a half tips.