How to deal with self-doubt as a filmmaker

Learn how to deal with self-doubt as a freelance creative or filmmaker. Don’t let it stop you from making your films

Every filmmaker I know, every creative I know actually, lives a dual life in their heads.

All filmmakers believe, with their whole heart, that their ideas are good and worth being made into films. We believe that the films are good enough to get picked up, turned into something bigger. They are enough to make them stand out as a filmmaker that should be celebrated for their talent.

But they also wander round with constant, niggling doubt that they’re not good enough, their work isn’t good enough and that they’re never going to make it.

Sound familiar?

I used to do this all the time, and I still catch myself in it. If I haven’t slept properly or went way too heavy on the caffeine yesterday then my mind gets stuck in the same rut.

I’ve lost days due to self-doubt, so I created a process to deal with it. And now I’m handing that process over to you.

Step one >> Accept it

Self-doubt sits on the shoulders of everyone, every day. There’s very little use in trying to stamp it out, you’ll just be wasting more time and energy. Everyone has to have some element of self-doubt. It’s actually there to protect you. It’s a part of you trying to keep yourself safe, and that’s why we have to have it.

If you didn’t have any self-doubt you’d be, at worst, a psychopath and at best, horribly egotistical and no one would ever want to talk to you.

In order to create you have to get used to being uncomfortable. The easiest way to do that is by acknowledging when you’re out of your comfort zone, realising that it’s going to help you work SO much, and accept it. Don’t think about it too much (you’ll drive yourself crazy).

Step two >> Create your process

Having a signature method for creating is a great way to not get overwhelmed thinking about how uncomfortable you are AND means you don’t get stuck in a rut with your ideas stuck in your head.

Know your exact process for creating new work and then turn it into a routine.

Once I have an idea I add to the list in my notebook. When I’m ready to pick it up, I spend half an hour brainstorming the whole thing. The structure, the budget, the distribution, the audience. I want a clear frame of reference for it.

When it’s fully fleshed out I can put an idea down for a few days and think about who I’d want to work on it.

Having such a clear process means that I’m consistently creating new ideas that quickly become fully developed projects. Doing it on autopilot means I’m no longer losing time wondering and worrying about the concept.

Getting a bigger audience for your short film

Step three >> Find your people

Having a go-to group of filmmakers who understand exactly what I want to make has been my saving grace on so many occasions. They know the stories I want to tell and how I want to be known in the industry.

There are a ton of projects that would have stayed in my notebooks if it hadn’t been for my friends helping me out when I got stuck, and high-level people in the industry giving me advice on how to move forward.

My friends have also been incredible for giving honest feedback. They tell me when something is great, and in one sentence they get me over the self-doubt that’s formed over that project. They also tell me when something isn’t right or won’t work and I know that I can either change it or leave it.

If you’re someone who’s all about doing things the most productive way then you’re going to fall in love with this step. It’s the simplest way to creating the fastest route to taking action on your project.

Bonus >> Use it

Before I started writing this post I was having been some major self-doubt. I didn’t know what to write, I didn’t think what I wrote would be any good. I got stuck.

Then it dawned on me how often I fall into that feeling, as do so many creators I meet and talk to on the daily.

So I used that feeling and turned it into a piece of content and… well, here we are.

Never undermine or undervalue your own experiences. They might be the exact thing your content needs and your audience is looking for.

How to handle self-doubt when you’re a freelance creator, and don’t let it stop you from working to your highest level

I went live in my community on Wednesday to talk about the #1 thing freelancers don’t like to talk about – staying motivated when you’re working on your own projects. Self-doubt is the biggest motivation-killer. Check out the video for the three things you can do to stay on top of your game 24/7.


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