Spell Against Self Doubt

This summer, I almost turned down a writing residency.

Before fully considering the offer, doubt crept in. A friend pointed out that I was more focused on my self-doubt than the opportunity in front of me. And so, I cast a spell against self-doubt.

The spell was quite simple; it was to complete four actions before starting work.

Those actions were:

  • An act of kindness
  • An act of strength
  • An act of creation
  • An act of bravery

My Spell Against Self-Doubt

In the weeks leading up to the residency, and during the residency itself, my spell against self-doubt became a daily practice. Each action was an antidote to my most frequent doubts.

The manifestation of my casual witchcraft was to:

  • Make coffee for my partner  (Act of Kindness)
  • Bust out 30-50 Pushups (Act of Strength)
  • Sketch a quick cartoon (Act of Creation)
  • Scribble three pages of automatic writing (Act of Bravery)

The culmination of this practical magic was that when I started work on my play I was energized, centered, and eager to tap into the fictional world I was creating. Whenever doubt started to murmur, I refuted it, with my proof of kindness, strength, creation, and bravery

Centering my writing practice on acts of kindness towards others (and myself) let me shed my fear that writing is a selfish pursuit. The adrenaline rush from my act of strength let me draw with energy and abandon. I started sketching because it was a form that had no repercussions on my sense of self as a creative.


Satisfaction: holding a grudge / letting it go

I gave up on “learning to draw” in seventh grade when I was unable to render a realistic bouquet of flowers. Last July, when I decided to start drawing, I was unencumbered from any pressure to be good. Unlike writing, it’s not something I’ve practiced.Surprisingly, I fell in love.

Armed with paints, I was full of stories. Freed from any understanding of technique, I was able to let go of my bias that realistic is good. Drawing in my own perspective, freed me to write in my own voice.

After the joy of splashing my thoughts into colorful cartoons, I was able to face myself on the page and write.

By the time the residency started, the spell had taken hold. Instead of bringing my toolbox of doubt, I brought my watercolors and a play I was excited to share.


Ready, Set, Draw!

Over the past six months, the spell has stuck. I continue to count acts of kindness, feats of strength, and drawing as an essential to my writing. What started as an act of desperation has become a source of inspiration.

Do you have your own version of the spell against self-doubt?

Have you ever tried drawing/dancing/singing as a way to warm-up before writing?


Naomi is a writer, performer, and project manager.  She has dueling degrees in business and playwriting.


12 thoughts on “Spell Against Self Doubt

  1. Hi Naomi, I loved this piece, thank you. I believe wholeheartedly in the practice of self-talk and I loved the fact you were kind to yourself, as well as others. Your return to drawing is fantastic: we need to connect with our inner child now and again!

  2. Thank you for the inspirational post, Naomi. I have no spell for self-doubt, but after reading this, I should definitely come up with one. Good luck with your play!

  3. yes, i dance.

    On Wed, Jan 31, 2018 at 4:03 PM, Live to Write – Write to Live wrote:

    > Naomi Shafer posted: “This summer, I almost turned down a writing > residency. Before fully considering the offer, doubt crept in. A friend > pointed out that I was more focused on my self-doubt than the opportunity > in front of me. And so, I cast a spell against self-doubt. The ” >

  4. Thank you for this post. I found it fascinating. It is an exercise in valuable humanity skills as well. Never let the thought enter you mind that writing is ‘selfish’. Most of my life I have felt that what I NOW know is a Gift was somehow ‘selfish’ because I enjoyed it so much. All the ‘stolen’ moment when I thought something more important was to be done. It was only when I was confronted with a serious health issue and knew that life could (note could) be shortened that I saved all the scraps the bits in drawers and cupboards and began to compile them into actual completed manuscripts etc. Now I can honestly say…….writing is part of WHO I am as a complete person. I turned down the chance when I was young of getting full university training etc and being a newspaper journalist. I have never truly regretted as my path became as a storyteller and not to be labelled in any restrictive way. I write because I write and I write fiction but also my own TRUTH. I wish you all the very best in your future. Self-doubt could indeed be daunted by your spells. Cheers!

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  6. Pingback: If you want to write, write! And other infuriating advice | Live to Write – Write to Live

  7. Pingback: Take a Break (Infuriating Advice, Part 2) | Live to Write – Write to Live

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