Radio Station KFKD

by Tammy Strobel on January 31, 2011

In Bird by Bird, Anne Lamott describes the radio station KFKD. KFKD is a station that plays two channels into a writer’s head, non-stop, 24 hours a day. In one ear, you’re likely to hear about how wonderful and brilliant you are and in the other ear the streaming station is all about bitter self-doubt.

Unfortunately, my streaming station has been zoomed in on self-doubt. Even after an early morning walk, KFKD was still playing loudly. So rather than writing a post on “how to be creative” today, I decided to turn to a few experts for inspiration.

If you’re dealing with a streaming station that isn’t very helpful or encouraging, I highly recommend watching these videos:

Amy Tan: Where does creativity hide?

Elizabeth Gilbert on nurturing creativity

1 Jimi January 31, 2011

I guess finding creativity is highly personal, so nothing of this may apply to anyone else. For me, the only way to get rid of the self-doubt is action, doing things, which means sit down and write. Okay, five minutes then, I say to myself.

Sometimes you gotta take it bird by bird. It was an inspiration for me, that little story, that I was okay doing baby turtle steps. In the end it’ll get me there.

I’ve had a lot of help lately by Kenny Werner and his book, Effortless Mastery. Even though it is written for musicians (Kenny is a jazz pianist) it has given me a reminder about the dualism of being a writer – that you have two people in your head, the writer and the editor. It is too easy to get the editor on board too fast, and he (or she) says a lot of “no good, not original, not funny, blah, blah…” even before you’ve hit “Once upon a time there was this crazy bear who lived in New York”.

It’s okay to have a little doubt, just as long as I write. Even bad writing gets me further than no writing.

2 Tammy January 31, 2011

@Jimi – Thanks for the thoughtful comment. I’ll check out Effortless Mastery. It sounds fantastic. :) And yes, I agree about the baby steps. I keep plugging away, but some days it’s harder than others.

Bird by Bird is such an amazing book. I’ve already read it twice and I’m thinking about reading it again.

Thanks! :)

3 Susan January 31, 2011

I love this and totally agree. It is highly personal and action is just about the only thing that works. Without action, you’re not unleashing anything. There’s no creative juices flowing if you haven’t done anything to unleash the floodgates.

Self-doubt is inevitable. It’s near impossible to create something and have any real perspective on it once you’ve marinated in it for so long. That’s why I think the creative process is largely a two-way stream. Someone needs to be on the other end of the energy you’re putting out there. It needs a conduit, or a plug of some kind.

4 Gena S January 31, 2011

Tammy,
It always amazes and humbles me to realize that real people I hold in high esteem suffer with the same self doubt and questioning that I do. I guess in truth we all do. Some days seem more predisposed to the doubt, less to blind faith in ourselves and our gifts and I wonder in each funk and again when I come out of it what the culprit is. Weather? Hormones? Critical voices from my past? This recurring theme of the last few days, just can’t be an accident. I ran into it in church on the weekend, a version of it over at Be More with Less [dot com] this morning and being winter, I have a funny feeling I’ll see it pop up on our radar again. I am finding more and more that others can think us brilliant, funny, gifted, prescient, amazing; you get the idea; but until we give ourselves permission to find out why they do and choose to believe what they see in us is really, well, us; we tend to give into the little niggling voice of self doubt and unbelief that robs the light and joy from our day and maybe even steals the gifts of ourselves we offer to others from them when they may need it most. Thanks again for the transparency, being real always trumps artifice for us. In case you forgot even for a little bit today, you are awesome, your voice matters, your gifts matter, most importantly you matter. Hope I’m not getting to ‘deep’ here for comments but this subject is bouncing around in me.
With Aloha,
Gena

5 Tammy January 31, 2011

@Gena – WOW, thank you so much. You just made my day. I’ll have to check out Courtney’s post.

Maybe it is the weather? I wrote a lot this weekend, but most of the content wasn’t good. Despite a lot of editing the writing wasn’t flowing. I’m not sure what the deal is. :) Hopefully my Wednesday post will be better.

And I agree, being real is the way to go! Everyone has their own struggles. :)

Thanks for reading and sharing. You rock!

6 tina January 31, 2011

Thanks for these. I have the radio station playing all the time too.

7 Quinn W January 31, 2011

I absolutely love that video by Elizabeth Gilbert! Thanks for sharing. There are some great phrases and images in her speech. I adore the story about Ruth Stone, the older woman who would catch her poem by the tail and pull it into her body after running through the fields to find paper and pen.

Have you had moments like that? I’m trying to think if I have, but I think I do have that type of flow through me when I do any type of visual design…be it designing graphics or designing the new decor of my bedroom. We just simply have to be open enough to catch onto the wave, and ride it til it empties us on the shore.

Be gentle with yourself today. I know exactly how it feels. As Elizabeth Gilbert says: “Olé to you nonetheless!!”

~Quinn

8 Tammy January 31, 2011

Hey Quinn – Cool! I’m so happy you like Gilbert’s talk. She is so amazing. I love her writing. :)

The story about Ruth Stone was beautiful. I haven’t had moments exactly like that, but close. I always keep my notebook handy, just in case. :)

Thanks for the kind words and support. Have a great night.

9 Shawna Cevraini January 31, 2011

Thanks so much for sharing this Tammy. Just what I needed today too! :)

10 Living Large in Our Little House February 2, 2011

Tammy,
This is an affliction I suppose everyone suffers with at points, but it is especially true for writers. The self doubt and message the “station” is telling me has changed through the years, but it still is loud and clear at times. Keep on keeping on and do whatever you have to do to change that channel!

11 Druzelle Cederquist February 4, 2011

I had seen part of the Elizabeth Gilbert video before, but today I watched it all, and it felt like really good medicine. I am in the midst of a large book project, my second historical biography written as creative nonfiction, which holds new challenges and has from time to time called up old doubts and fears that I thought I had put to bed long ago. And I have a deadline which is way too close. I would like to write a blog post about my response to the Gilbert vide but don’t have the time just now.

I do want to share with you, Tammy, something I found useful from another source – Sally Kempton. (I took phone-conference meditation classes with her.) She is also a writer (writes a column for Yoga magazine) and has dealt with creative issues. Look for the article “Fear Not” on her web page http://www.sallykempton.com/article.html . Every bit of encouragement / insight helps.

12 Jo@simplybeingmum February 8, 2011

Hi Tammy – Just a question… I don’t suffer from self-doubt and that may be due to having a very small blog read by a handful of people (who are lovely and very kind). Did you feel this before your blog took off or has it occurred due to the increase in your audience do you think? Is self-doubt more to do with potential evaluation and criticism of your writing, rather than your own opinion of your ability to write? It isn’t possible (IMO) to write for everyone and please everyone – there will be those that do not get every post, or everything that is said. As long as you write what you truly believe you should not doubt yourself at all, your audience cannot ask for much more than that. I think you are a fantastic writer. Jo (p.s I know you are a perfectionist – I used to be one too. I am no longer as I realised my 80% (make that 65%) perfect was good enough for public consumption – the 100% never came)

13 Tammy February 8, 2011

@Jo: Self-doubt has always been an issue for me. It’s not due to blog growth, it’s just my own personal stuff that I have to work through. :)

Thanks for the tips!

Previous post:

Next post: