Self doubt is what causes you to lie on the floor, stare up at the ceiling and think, “What the hell am I doing with my life? Did I honestly think that I could _______ (fill in the blank)?” Self doubt is what causes you to curl up into the fetal position under the covers and try not to think.
Self doubt gives you writer’s block.
Well, not that I am one to preach on the skills needed to kick self doubt in the teeth… But I do have a blog. And, if you ever suffer from self doubt you should know that you are not alone. See? Here I am. Typing away all about self doubt. Why? Because I’m freaking plagued with it is why.
Being a writer is hard. It’s not like other things you could do like… playing soccer. You write alone. Sure, everyone is ~~~alone~~~ but at least when you play soccer and you twist your ankle there’s a sub waiting on the sidelines. No such luck with writing. We don’t really even get cheerleaders.
Granted, if there was a peppy girl bouncing around next to me while I attempted to write I might wind up stabbing her with the pen. So it’s probably a good thing we don’t get cheerleaders.
Instead, we get other writers. We read their blogs, essays, books, whatever, and discover that we are in fact not alone. That I am not the only one with these thoughts of self doubt and dear God why am I doing this? Every writer gets those thoughts.
So, I finished a first draft of my epic-ly long paper and instead of getting really excited I laid on the ground, stared at the ceiling and thought to myself “Who am I kidding?”
And then I sat up.
And then I opened up a book of essays that Ursula K. Le Guin wrote and read the essay “Talking About Writing.” If you’ve never read it you need to. It is insightful, brilliant and funny. Everything I hope to be. (You can find the collection of essays on amazon even though it’s out of print: The Language of the Night). I will share the last paragraph from the essay I just read:
You may have gathered from this that I am not encouraging people to try and be writers. Well, I can’t. You hate to see a nice young person run up to the edge of a cliff and jump off, you know. Son the other hand, it is awfully nice to know that some other people are just as nutty and just as determined to jump off the cliff as you are. You just hope they realize what they’re in for.
Why is that uplifting in the least? Because she knows it’s hard. She knows how I feel and she doesn’t want me to feel that way if she can help it. But when it comes down to it – she can’t help. No one can. Not when you’re a writer, because there is just something inside of you that has to write. That has to jump. Self doubt holds you back. And there’s no fun being held back.
So, just jump already.