Ink Diaries: Wrestling the Doubt Demons

I’m not sure which summons the doubt demons more: Thinking over your work the next morning in the cold light of day or watching that work unfold standing in the back of a darkened theatre. One moment you’re thrilled with how you’re telling a story on stage. The next you’re wondering if you’ve lost your mind.

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Self-doubt is an affliction most artists recognize. You see it in every mirror. No one questions you more than you. No one argues with you louder than you. And generally, no one has any idea but you. It’s a lonely, creepy, dark place.

I’ve reached that point, now that we’re rehearsing on stage, where I’m living and breathing more doubt than air. My oxygen intake will decrease in fits and starts over the next 10 days while the doubt swells. Things start to take shape and become searingly solid on stage and in my brain I’m thinking “wow, that’s good” simultanesouly with what I did with that moment just sucks. I dream the show at night and wake up in a cold sweat with anxieity over a moment I’ve just dream watched.

Fortunately I’ve learned better how to face those demons. I generally trust my gut and my instincts. But every now and then my gut ties itself up into a knot of Gordian proportions. That tangle tightens when you look to you collaborators for some sign of affirmation one way or the other and the answer you see in their eyes is “you’re the boss.”

Well, yeah. That’s true.

But you both long for and hope against pushback.

The dreams are another thing. If they keep landing on the same moments it means I need to reexamine that work. Or I just ate the wrong thing before falling asleep.

On the other hand, if those moments of self-doubt don’t creep in I would know I’m just pretending. Decisions beget decisions. Bold ones beget bigger moments of doubt and bigger chances of success. And bigger demons.

So. I’m back in the river of doubt. In a paradox, it feels good and right to be here again, swirling throught the rapids, simultaneously wondering if I’m just all wet and have hit my head on a rock

Author: Warner Crocker

I stumble through life as a theatre director and playwright as well as a gadget geek...commenting along the way. Every day I learn something new is a good day, so I share what I find exciting, new, stupid and often worthwhile.

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