A cloud has settled down over so many of my writer friends these days.
I’m helpless and scared and very concerned about the doubt we writers experience. I’m talking about the doubt of others (“Why is it taking you so long to write your book? Are you still writing it? Have you published anywhere lately?” or worse, “Why would anyone want to be a writer? Why are you writing?”). I’m also talking about the more insidious self-doubt (“What the f*ck am I doing? Am I any good? Am I full of shit?” and um, etcetera, etcetera I doubt (oh a pun!) any writer will have a hard time imagining all the other phrases we shoot at ourselves).
It’s the self-doubt that makes me hit the delete key, the self-doubt that has me paralyzed in front of the screen for thirty minutes before I start typing each day. It never goes away. Sometimes I call on fantasies to deflect the fear and questioning. I fake it till I make it. Or more usefully, I say, “F*ck it.” Man, I have done some amazing things under the auspice and spirit of “f*ck it.”
I’m so scared of self-doubt that I keep one foot out of writing at all times. I keep a “day job” so that I feel like I have at least one thing in my life where I can invest some of my self esteem–so that all my eggs are not in the writing basket. (“Hey, I wrote SHIT today, but at least um, my boss said I rocked at that project!”) Maybe that’s wimping out. But I’m not that hardcore a person. I’m so scared of self-doubt that I feel like I need to find a “cure” for it: for myself and for my friends. I want to save all of us from this self-doubt, and create a world where writers are confident and happy and productive and sure.
Why am I so scared of self-doubt? The vulnerability frightens me. The power of self-doubt over my production freaks me out. And maybe self-doubt even erases a bit of my voice in my writing.
Am I right? No.
Self-doubt keeps us true (well, as my writing mentor said, “Self-doubt paired with a desire to write provides the writer with her best tool: a great bullshit detector.”). There is a balance implied in that equation: your desire to write must always be present and in equal if not greater amount than your self-doubt. (ugh, I just did math on my blog).
Now I am doubting this post.
Am I making any sense? What am I accomplishing? Am I making anyone feel better? Am I feeling more enlightened? Am I full of bullshit? Is this full of bullshit? How many grammatical errors have I made? Bleah.
I guess self-doubt is just part of being a writer. I can’t fight it. I must ride with it. And see it as a poignant, beautiful thing. It is our heart, isn’t it? It is all of our vulnerability as a writer and it informs our writing. I think without it, our writing would not have soul.