On Not Letting Doubt Win

Writers often have many companions. The muse that brings us inspiration. The lurking block sulking in the corner when we chase it off. A few stray (and possibly sentient) dust bunnies in the corners of our homes. Numerous characters who are absolutely insistent that the best time to talk to you is when you’re in the middle of something else and can’t stop and write down all the interesting bits to go with their story.

And doubt.

Doubt comes in a lot of forms. Doubt that maybe our story won’t sell, or maybe our query letter isn’t strong enough. Doubt that we can come up with another idea, write another story. Doubt that we’re too old, too young, not good enough, can’t write well enough, will never be as good as that person over there–

Doubt is a writer’s frequent companion. Self-doubt is especially strong. The reasons for that are probably based in statistics and science that I don’t happen to have my dears.  Ask any of your writer friends you know and they’ll probably have at least one or two doubts that they admit to having. Popular writers have admitted to doubt. Prolific ones have.

While I wish there was a simple solution to dealing with doubt, it is rather unfortunately, what has stopped many other writers from continuing to write before they’ve even finished their first draft. Writing is hard work, and the reward is sometimes minimal. Having doubt hanging around your shoulders only makes it harder. What are we supposed to do when doubt bites?

Do it anyways.

Write your story. Send your queries. Hit publish. Do whatever it your little toothy nemesis is telling you you can’t do, or that you shouldn’t do or you’re not good enough to do.

Take a look around and you’ll find dozens of stories of doubt and the writers who fought with it. Ones who thought ‘maybe I’m not experienced enough to write this’. Ones who are a little afraid they’ll never be able to write another story as good as the first. Ones who were starting to doubt they would ever get published or sold. You might also find a reoccurring theme there.

A lot of those doubts are things that they have since overcome. Doubt your book is going to get picked out of the slush pile? Throw it in anyways.  Doubt you have anything new to write about? Write it anyways.

Writing is hard work. Doubt makes it harder, but there are two things to remember. One, your path is different than anyone else’s. Everyone starts somewhere a little different, with a little uniqueness to bring to the table.

Two, it’s hard but it can’t get any easier if you don’t give yourself a chance. Every chance you take in spite of that doubt is one chance closer to the one that works for you. That’s not to say you’ll get it right a hundred percent of the time. But if you’re not trying, you’re not getting it right even five percent of the time either.


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