If you’re a writer, chances are you’ve experienced self-doubt.
Doubt, fear, or whatever we call it, hides in the back of a writer’s mind and creeps back with a vengeance. Sometimes it kills creativity and sends writers away from their computers for days at a time.
Shakespeare said it well: “Our doubts are traitors/And make us lose the good we might oft’ bring/By fearing to attempt.”
Not all writers doubt themselves — oh lucky are they who suffer no such malady. But for those who do, why should we fear?
Because we make up stories?
Because as the saying goes, You are as good as you think you are … so when the occasional rejection letter arrives it can be seen as a definition of good. Not the correct definition, but come on, who hasn’t looked at those words (The story is not for us … It just didn’t grab me…) as a definition of sorts, even if only for a minute?
We are human and as such conditioned to doubt.
Stephen King is said to question his writing ability. His whole career is said to have started with one big insecurity. But his fear story had a good ending … thanks in part to his wife who, as we know, fished out the crumpled pages from the file he’d thrown them into and mailed them out for him.
So, if doubt exists and talent exists, now what do we do?
Maybe we never get past our doubts. Maybe we accept doubt as a constant and unwanted companion we learn to ignore, something that will always reside in the back of our minds. We take comfort in knowing some days are better than others, and that’s probably true for all creative types.
Maybe we push ahead no matter what. Sit in front of the computer and slog away. Get those thoughts out, edit, write, revise, start again. When doubt hits, maybe I’ll go jogging. Take it from there.
Dick Simon (of Simon & Schuster) once said, “All writers are scared to death. Some simply hide it better than others.”
Well … that’s good to know. :)
Images credit: Fear, worry and doubt, from medium world – wordpress; unfinished painting depicting woman awaiting her lover – from Wikimedia Commons.