All the talent in the world will not insulate you from moments of doubt. The best well written outline will not save you from doubt. All the writing challenges, writing sprints and applications for NaNoWriMo will not save you from doubt.
But here is something that you need to not just understand, but to know: a doubt unchecked becomes a rooted fear.
A doubt–unchecked–becomes a rooted fear.
As a creative person, especially a writer, you will encounter these moments where the words won’t come, or they cannot come. These types of doubts are normal. However, when the doubts which are not worked through become fears.
A fear in something irrational, or unproven in some cases.
In the years by which I have been at this craft, learning and trying to do it better, the main three fears which occur in the life of writers are can be summed up here:
1.) Fear of Launching.
2.) Fear of Criticism.
3.) Fear of Vision.
Let me explain a little further.
The Fear of Launching will run the space out of a computer, jump drive or notebook. It will keep you second guessing, nervous and believing it is good enough to just write! This fear will keep you as a hamster on a wheel.
How you defeat this: Write and begin to share you work. Find a writing group. Find a free platform. If you are a minority writer, these writer groups are essential. Writing in community helps.
The Fear of Criticism will send keep you thinking that you work will have no audience. That you will not be successful. This fear will paralyze your talent: it will stop you from writing or sharing your work! This fear will be apparent especially in the beginning–and must be handled afresh with every project.
How you defeat this: Write. Write scared. Write everything that you think you want to read! Remember these two quotes.
“If there is a book you want to read, you must write it.” -Toni Morrison
“A real writer can write anything.” -Christopher Priest
Write because you know you can.
The Fear of Vision will keep you from branching out into the world. It will keep you stifled and stymied into a genre either you want to change, or expand. As a writer, you must become comfortable in seeing what other people cannot see. Don’t be afraid of what you see, or want to see! That is the nature of this craft–we create what we see, that other people can’t see, in order to make the world is little bigger or smaller.
How to confront this: Write what you want to write, and not what other people tell you to write. Find the genre that makes you happy, that speaks to you, and write what you want. Write the things you want to see.
It has a key to your creative house, and knocks stuff over. It eats all your brain food. And it sits at your desk, or sleeps in your bed–putting you out of your comfy space.
You have to put it out!
You take the keys back from doubt every time you pick up a pen. Every time you research. Every time you pick up your work. Every time your call yourself a writer in public, private and when asked. Doubt deflates when you believe in what you can do.
Doubt will never able to live where faith in self lives!
The scariest thing sometimes is to create a story. The next scariest thing is to decide to revise something you may have had to push through to finish. The thing which hinders writers to revise is anxiety. Namely, the dynamic duo of fear and doubt.
The fear tells the writer, “How can you do it?” Doubt says, “I don’t think I can, I don’t see how I can, and I can’t. I can’t. I can’t!” These voices will always haunt writers. We coexist with fear and doubt. From idea conception to publishing, we wax and wane between the highs and lows brought about through, by creativity.
In conquering these bickering, quibbling voices, try these steps:
1.) Be forgiving of yourself.
Writing is hard! Let no one tell you different. Sometimes the best thing you can do is to forgive yourself for doubting the quality of your work, or leaving a work or draft believing it is not worth rewriting. Audre Lorde notes there are times that writers don’t in fact write! And indeed this is heartbreaking. However, in forgiving yourself, you allow the gift, the talent to return without hindrance.
2.) Be honest.
What are you writing to write?
What are you trying to say?
Don’t think about what other people will think when they read it, you must first write the book you want to read. From there, you are able, will be able to write and revise as you desire.
3.) Be consistent.
We know that scheduling writing time can be a thing of miracles. However, if you desire to finish or revise a work, you will have to push through doubt by way of discipline and consistency.
If you set out to make Wednesdays your revision/writing days? Do that. Let nothing hinder you from that work, and developing that discipline.
Discipline helps to silence doubt, and stifle fear. It proves to your talent and giftings they are under control, subject to your demand, and are subject to exercising. You can write because you can write.
4.) Be confident.
This is your story. You are its writer. These people, these worlds you create, are subject to your control and the limited only by your imagination. Write as if know one is looking. The only one who is will be you. So give your audience something to see.