Today’s assignment is this. Look around you for a minute and pick out a writer you know, either online or in the real world. Somebody you respect, and maybe sometimes feel a teensy little twinge of jealousy of. I’m not talking Neil Gaiman or Nora Roberts here, (although the same mileage may apply) but a working writer who is doing her thing. Or his.
Got that person in mind? Looks like they’ve got all their ducks lined up, right? Agent. Publishing contract. A book or two out into the world. Maybe they’ve had some glowing reviews. Or they’ve got fabulous speaking engagements all lined up. Or they’ve just pulled of an extravaganza of a book signing that makes yours look like a lemonade stand in winter.
You know what? That writer has doubts. Not little doubts. DOUBTS. Every time that person is working on a book they’ve got these sorts of thoughts running through their head:
Can I really pull this off again?
What if nobody reads it?
What if every word I write is total shit?
Even if they have a publishing contract and an agent, they are also probably thinking these thoughts:
What if I can’t get a new contract?
What if no publisher in the world wants to buy this book?
What if my agent hates this manuscript and maybe even decides to drop my worthless writerly self?
These DOUBTS are evil in the bad way, not the totally awesome Evil Writer Way we are all trying to follow. They stifle creativity. They keep us from writing. Even when we do manage to shut them off and get words down they steal the joy of the creative process.
So what do we do with these DOUBTS you ask?
You find out, please let me know. All I can say at this point is to ignore them, sneaky little word sucking parasites that they are. I used to think of doubt as a monster. I even called it that, the DOUBT MONSTER. But doubt doesn’t work that way. If it did, it would be easier to fight. Think leeches, ticks, mosquitoes. They sneak up on you when you’re not looking and dig in. They not only suck blood, they carry diseases. And they make you itch.
So shut them up in the best way that works for you. Stomp on them, smash them, burn them with fire. Create a Doubt Free Zone. When they show up, write the words anyway. Blaze on forward. Hang out with writers who are writing, not just talking about writing.
And if you find the miracle eradication drug along the way? I want in on your secret.
Yeah, the Doubt Monster is an evil one. Mine strikes whenever I slow down on a project or when I’m between projects. Usually, if I’m hard at work creating, rewriting, revising, or editing something, the Inner Critic is screaming so loudly she drowns out the Doubt Monster. During the polishing phase? Doubt Monster waves a banner, “Ain’t nobody gonna think this is good. You suck.”
So, the only way to shut this guy up? Keep writing. Keep revising and editing. Wear earplugs while polishing the stories.
Thanks for this encouraging post. Write on, my friend. People are reading your stuff.