Because it isn’t always. If you’re watching an actor straddle two running horses as he miraculously escapes being decapitated by the tree branches within inches of his lowered head, and you’re thinking, “I seriously doubt an actor would risk his life like that,” your doubt might be 100% correct.
But the actor’s stunt double — or the one who created the convincing digital background — probably won’t tell.
Sometimes, though, doubt is a total jerk.
I’m writing this post as an entry to Bryan Hutchinson’s (Positive Writer) Writing Contest: Writers Crushing Doubt, which I encourage all my writerly readers to check out.
In Bryan’s own words, “All you have to do is write an essay (blog post) about an instance in your life when Writer’s Doubt tried to stop you from writing and you found a way to overcome it and write anyway.”
Now, you may be thinking, “Okay, so . . . which incident do I write about?”
‘Cause that’s what I was thinking. First, I had coffee. Then, I had more coffee. And then, while my five-year-old was watching Super Buddies on the computer right next to mine — ’cause my “office” is a small sewing table with a laptop in a corner of our living room — I had a thought.
And unlike some jerky thoughts, it didn’t just jump into focus for a few seconds, yell “Boo!” and then disappear before I could get a good look at it.
This one stuck around a bit, asking, “Remember me? I’m that doubt that needles you just enough to make you write another one of your ranty posts, because you read or heard yet another published author tell you what you ‘need’ in order to become a ‘successful author.’ ”
Whether it’s a “room of her own” (thanks for nothing, Virginia Woolf. Not helpful) or “Scrivener — the software that will revolutionize your writing…” (which I can’t afford and which doesn’t play well with my easily-overwhelmed-by-details brain), I get irritated when folks tell me I “really need” something they have that has helped them become the successful published authors they are today.
I’m glad it helped you. I really am. But I don’t need it. I don’t. So, please just stop telling me that I do. Because it’s freaking me out.
Mostly because the voice of doubt is chiming in right now with “See?! You think you’re on the path to becoming a successful published author, but all the people who are succeeding have things you don’t have — things you can’t afford or stubbornly refuse to buy (in favor of trivial things like food and gasoline) — and they’re swearing all the time that they wouldn’t be the successes they are without those things. So, what hope do you really have of enjoying the same success?”
I probably won’t enjoy “the same success.” But I’m not aiming for “the same success” others have achieved.
Success for me doesn’t have to include quitting my part-time lunch lady job (with the best co-workers I could hope for). It doesn’t have to include earning six figures from my books.
I do want to finish my novel. And I want to finish the nonfiction book I’m working on while I let my novel’s first draft rest.
And, God willing, I intend to publish them — however I can. I rather like the idea of becoming an indie publisher. I want to be the one in charge of deciding the cover design for my books, with the help of a professional cover designer (makeover!!), and I fully intend to brag (immoderately) about all those who helped me with my novel and my book.
The cover-designer. The editor. My beta-readers. All who give their time, talent, and effort to critique or edit or proofread my novel or book. They deserve a place of pride in my “Acknowledgements.” I look forward to writing that section and making sure every name is included. I would consider the book incomplete without the pages dedicated to thanking them for making my work presentable.
It’s thinking about my novel and my book, and working on them — even if I’m just rambling on about some new “what if” questions that come to mind — that helps dispel those doubts.
I don’t need a room of my own. I don’t need Scrivener or any designer writing software. Microsoft Word has always served me well, and for taking notes and saving ideas from the internet, I have been grateful over and over for Evernote (especially the app on my iPhone).
And when the same doubts pop up, suggesting I need to be different somehow — be more extroverted, be more confident, be more thick-skinned — I tell them, now, to go bother someone who cares. Or I’ll write another ranty post about them.
I know I’m oversensitive and introverted, and I tend to overreact and take things personally, and that often makes life more difficult than it has to be.
But it doesn’t mean I can’t become the person I was made to be. And it doesn’t mean I can’t succeed as a writer.
It doesn’t mean I can’t keep writing, every day, and steadily improve my craft.
It doesn’t mean, either, that what I write is most likely going to be unreadable and irrelevant to anyone but myself. I’m not the only thin-skinned or nervous writer out there. I know there are more of us.
And we keep writing, anyway.
Because what drives us is bigger than the doubts that try to distract us. The doubts that say “You don’t have what it takes (the stuff, the personality, the talent, the business savvy) to become a successful writer” are irrelevant to the love that compels us to keep writing anyway.
So, keep writing! You and your story matter infinitely more than the doubts that try to stop you.
Doubt doesn’t stand a chance. Love is bigger.
6 thoughts on “When doubt is a bastard…”
Evernote is the best. I’ve attempted to write whole stories in Evernote, but eventually I end up defaulting back to Word or similar. There are subscriptions to some writing sites that I would be happy to buy if I were in a better financial spot… But not being able to gives one such a wonderful “wait, wait I can do this without that” perspective.
So true! I’ve been tempted sometimes to sign up for one thing or another or to buy this or that writing tool, but not being able to afford anything but the occasional book to read has forced me to make do without it. Sometimes, it can feel isolating, when so many writers are members of this or that writer’s group or so many use a particular program that you find both frustrating and too expensive (thank you, free version of Evernote!), but we have a perspective that can help others in the same boat. So, there’s that! I’m not gonna start charging “a modest fee” for writers interested in joining “All the Broke Writers” or something like that, but we can encourage others from our blogs to just ignore those “but if you bought this, you’d be on the fast-track to success” pitches and squash the doubts that come when we say, “I can’t afford this.” We’re legion, we cash-poor writers and creatives. And we keep writing, anyway. Thanks for commenting, and have a great rest of your week!! 🙂
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Great Post ! I do not know at which point, but this post resonates with what I feel in general when I start writing. Being able to write without letting doubts to crop up is a tough mission indeed ! Hope I will get to read your book one day ! All the best !
Thank you, and wow!! I’m so glad it resonated with you, and I agree that crushing those doubts underfoot and writing anyway can be more of a challenge on some days than on others. Being sick for the past several days hasn’t helped, either, but everybody’s got something that makes it harder on some days to just keep going. Thanks so much for reading and for taking the time to commment, and I’ll keep you in mind when the novel’s finished. 😉 Take care, and have a good rest of the week! 🙂
Kudos, I so needed this post today. Everytime I pick up WD. I stop writing for months until I can purge the well if you buy xyz in triplicate, take these xyz seminars and attend our conferences . And become a world famous bizillanaire author and in the mean time freelance copywriting will make you a millionaire.
Thank you, and I’m beyond thrilled that you found it helpful!! As for the endless pitches for “guaranteed success if you buy our _____,” it’s maddening, isn’t it?! I just recently finished watching a series of videos that ended in a pitch for a program that cost almost a month’s mortgage (for the cheaper of the two plans) and which guaranteed that I’d become a bestselling author (or my money back). In the FAQ section, the writer behind the program answered the question, “Why is this program so expensive?” with “If you’re fixated on price, this program is not for you,” as if he were assuming that those who question his hyper-inflated price were just being cheap and not dedicated enough to succeeding as a published author. Yeah. So, even “successful” authors can be clueless. Reassuring, right? Or just frustrating. 😉 Thanks so much for commenting, and have a great rest of your week!! 🙂
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