Writing is not for the weak of heart. Writing is often a dangerous act, requiring all of the mental toughness and grit you can muster.
And no one knows that more than my clients—those writing dissertations and those who are now pushing on with writing their books or writing grant applications or articles.
Some of my clients feel like imposters who think they somehow got to where they are by luck.
Others are exhausted by the effort and by the stress of so much riding on this one piece of writing that they’ve become apathetic. To protect them from the pain of feeling incompetent their Lizard Brain lets them think: “I’ve stopped caring.”
One client has who has been published in well-received journals and who has presented internationally now is writing an application for an important grant. She’s leery of her ability both to market herself and at the same time offer the supporting evidence that would clinch the application for her.
This is the client whose wisdom has served her well. But now she needs to be five times bolder than she’s been in writing her dissertation or in sending articles to journals.
She felt unequal to the task until she recalled that she had been interviewed after making a presentation outside of the U.S. She remembers the exuberance she felt as she was explaining her position and her research to the interviewer. Fortunately, she has a transcript of the interview, and reading it gives her the push and mental energy she needs to move into this new task.
Similarly, a client who feels she hasn’t performed well on her dissertation has been surprised to hear that she’s been nominated for an award by her committee. Initially, she felt like hiding, sure that her work would reveal herself to be less capable than what they would expect. She thought of what they might say to her when they learned that she isn’t as far along with her work as she thinks she should be. But she also knows that she has been catastrophizing. Talking about the lack of evidence she has for any of these destructive beliefs gives her the will to pull on her inner resources of mental toughness and grit, and the will to plan strategies that will help her to get back on track and to stop with the self-sabotaging.
When talented, skilled, successful people are again and again pushed to produce, they can start to question themselves, question whether they got to where they are only by luck, whether they have what it takes to keep going. It takes boldness and courage to keep trudging, but it also takes a willingness to be vulnerable and to trust those around them, to show work to others when the work is not the best, and to ask for help.
As one brilliant woman told me, “I have to do that thing where I feel like I’m typing with two fingers.” Instead of turning on herself when she feels fear or uncertainty, she has to manage her feelings and keep plunking away, boldly and bravely.
Writing is scary, but there are ways to move quickly past those fears, and then to keep going.
How are you doing?
All good wishes,
Nancy Whichard, Ph.D., PCC
Your International Dissertation Coach and Academic Career Coach