Doubt is my greatest enemy. It steals my energy, my creativity, and my desire to even think. It’s the proverbial primate on my back, riding me at every turn, telling me that I’m a weak and worthless writer. And I believe it. Hook, line, and stinker.
For the past four years I’ve believed those lies. The voice of doubt has drowned out the glowing emails I’ve received from readers around the world. It has paralyzed my fingers and numbed my brain so much so that I have made very little real progress on my third novel—the final book in Isaac Hunt series. Truth be told I’ve written enough words to make up three books but doubt has stymied real progress.
Like a good Christian, I’ve prayed and fasted. I’ve confessed my sins, particularly those of being envious of other published writers. I’ve sought wise counsel (from writers and readers). I’ve asked others to pray. But the doubts lingered like bad relatives, and next to nothing gets written when I’m in the doubt storm. No blog posts. No Tweets. No Facebook updates. It’s survival mode; keep my nose above the flood of doubt at all cost.
But God sent me a life-saver today. It came in the form of James Scott Bell’s The Kill Zone post, “Writers and Doubt“. In it, Bell quotes another author Jack Bickham:
“All of us are scared: of looking dumb, of running out of ideas, of never selling our copy, of not getting noticed. We fiction writers make a business of being scared, and not just of looking dumb. Some of these fears may never go away, and we may just have to learn to live with them.”
Bell, who has many published novels and books on writing to his credit, adds, “The trick is not to let [your doubts] keep you from producing the words.” That is indeed a trick, like on the Evel Knievel level.
Write despite the doubts and fears. Turn those negative energies into fuel for writing. To write when I’m gripped by doubts is abnormal. It is the exact opposite of my normal response. But this fiction writing thing ain’t normal.
What about you? What do you do when doubt grips you?