If I had a dollar for every time I doubted an idea, I would be rich, and not have a single word written, nor any novels or short stories completed. Plainly, I would not be a writer, but a doubter.
Every writer, at some point or another, doubts their work, their ideas or their talent. So what do you do when that nagging doubt starts to eat away at your precious writing time? The way I see it, you can do three things. You can feed it, you can ignore it, or you can write through it.
Feed It: You let it grow. You let it eat away at you and fill you with fear and the idea that you are nothing, that you will never be anything because your idea is stupid, or it’s already been done by much better writers than you. It tells you all you do is copy, all you will ever be is a copier and a scam. No one will ever read your book, even if you paid them. I could go on and on, but you get the point.
Ignore It: You don’t listen to your doubts, you don’t let them get you down. If you can write, it goes well for a while;If you cannot write, you can’t come up with a reason why. You keep telling yourself I’ll write later or I’ll write on the commercials. It’s never I don’t want to write it’s I just can’t write right now. Eventually, your doubt sneaks up on you and it’s impossible to ignore it. And you suddenly find yourself listening to it.
Write Through It: You don’t listen to your doubts, you don’t even hear them because you are busy putting words on the page. You learn that your doubts are not all bad, and some of them are even founded, but that you take them with a grain of salt. You realize that your doubts were a way to try and keep you down, keep you in the same place you were and away from change. You keep writing even though you have doubts and you get pieces done. Instead of your enemies, your doubts become some kind of friends, or at least warnings.
I used to be in the first category, and then I moved into the second category the longer I wrote. I would write, but I would have all of those doubts and it would take ages to even finish a piece. I would focus more on other things I wanted to do instead of writing. Paint drying could be more interesting. I would start pieces and never finish them. I would start pieces and get stuck and not even want to get unstuck. I thought I was ignoring my doubts, but they were still eating me.
Recently, if you can call just over two years ago recently, I began to start taking writing more seriously than in previous years. I began taking everything more serious in my life when I got accepted into the Licensed Vocational Nursing Program. Around that time, the first manuscript I ever typed was printed for me. That, and the fact that my mom and almost her whole side of the family read it, and actually liked it, propelled me into the third category.
Even though I had doubted myself and told myself no one would read it or like it throughout the whole writing and typing process, someone had liked it. It was then that I realized, even if I doubted it almost every step of the way, it didn’t mean that my doubts were founded. That was when it all changed and I decided to write through my doubts and not let them eat me alive.
I’m not saying that’s the way for everyone, but I am saying that just because you doubt yourself doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t write that idea or plan it out. What you could do is write in spite of the doubts.
It may seem difficult at first, but it will get easier. Start by taking a deep breath and focusing on the project before you. Then write one sentence, it doesn’t even have to be a good sentence. Just one sentence.
How about you? How do you handle your doubts?
And remember, the secret is: Just keep going.