Self-doubt is the greatest enemy of any writer, greater than any critic, any naysayer, any editor, any nit-picky reader, any grammar fanatic, any Nazi spellchecker, any publisher, literary agent, or pessimistic friend. Self-doubt will crush an author before an author can even become an author.
Self-doubt is the mind-killer. Self-doubt is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my Self-doubt. I will permit it to pass over and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the self-doubt has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.
Okay so that last part is actually “The Litany against Fear” from Dune. I just took out the word fear and replaced it with the word Self-doubt. I stole it, so what. My point remains.
The biggest thing for any writer to overcome are his/her own doubts, fears and self imposed limitations. I know for me personally this hindrance has at times seemed insurmountable. “What you’re writing is no good, your plot is weak (full of holes) and your characters flat (not to mention dumb), you’d be better off stopping now and saving what little dignity you have left.” And yep I know what you’re thinking, my voice of doubt is a real dick, and your right, but that’s how Self-doubt rolls. It gets under your skin and its hard to shake, but you have to shake it, because the truth of the matter is you have nothing to lose.
Self-doubt is a defense mechanism, intended to save you from embarrassment or rejection or whatever you’re afraid will or won’t happen once you’re done, but what you have to realize, and what I have to constantly remind myself is that no matter what happens once you’ve written the last word or punctuated the last mark, the sun is still going to come up the next day. The world is not going to end. Time is not going to stop. You are not going to die if you don’t get published.
Worst case scenario is you don’t get published, you don’t get the hundred thousand dollar book deal, you don’t get picked up by some big shot Hollywood producer, and you never get that million dollar movie deal. So what, in the end, IF the worst case scenario does happen, you’re no worse off than you are now, but at least you can say you wrote a book.
So keep writing, show self-doubt who’s boss!
Till next time,