Because it isn’t always. If you’re watching an actor straddle two running horses as he miraculously escapes being decapitated by the tree branches within inches of his lowered head, and you’re thinking, “I seriously doubt an actor would risk his life like that,” your doubt might be 100% correct.
But the actor’s stunt double — or the one who created the convincing digital background — probably won’t tell.
Sometimes, though, doubt is a total jerk.
I’m writing this post as an entry to Bryan Hutchinson’s (Positive Writer) Writing Contest: Writers Crushing Doubt, which I encourage all my writerly readers to check out.
In Bryan’s own words, “All you have to do is write an essay (blog post) about an instance in your life when Writer’s Doubt tried to stop you from writing and you found a way to overcome it and write anyway.”
Now, you may be thinking, “Okay, so . . . which incident do I write about?”
‘Cause that’s what I was thinking. First, I had coffee. Then, I had more coffee. And then, while my five-year-old was watching Super Buddies on the computer right next to mine — ’cause my “office” is a small sewing table with a laptop in a corner of our living room — I had a thought.
And unlike some jerky thoughts, it didn’t just jump into focus for a few seconds, yell “Boo!” and then disappear before I could get a good look at it.
This one stuck around a bit, asking, “Remember me? I’m that doubt that needles you just enough to make you write another one of your ranty posts, because you read or heard yet another published author tell you what you ‘need’ in order to become a ‘successful author.’ ”
Whether it’s a “room of her own” (thanks for nothing, Virginia Woolf. Not helpful) or “Scrivener — the software that will revolutionize your writing…” (which I can’t afford and which doesn’t play well with my easily-overwhelmed-by-details brain), I get irritated when folks tell me I “really need” something they have that has helped them become the successful published authors they are today.
I’m glad it helped you. I really am. But I don’t need it. I don’t. So, please just stop telling me that I do. Because it’s freaking me out.
Mostly because the voice of doubt is chiming in right now with “See?! You think you’re on the path to becoming a successful published author, but all the people who are succeeding have things you don’t have — things you can’t afford or stubbornly refuse to buy (in favor of trivial things like food and gasoline) — and they’re swearing all the time that they wouldn’t be the successes they are without those things. So, what hope do you really have of enjoying the same success?”
I probably won’t enjoy “the same success.” But I’m not aiming for “the same success” others have achieved.
Success for me doesn’t have to include quitting my part-time lunch lady job (with the best co-workers I could hope for). It doesn’t have to include earning six figures from my books.
I do want to finish my novel. And I want to finish the nonfiction book I’m working on while I let my novel’s first draft rest.
And, God willing, I intend to publish them — however I can. I rather like the idea of becoming an indie publisher. I want to be the one in charge of deciding the cover design for my books, with the help of a professional cover designer (makeover!!), and I fully intend to brag (immoderately) about all those who helped me with my novel and my book.
The cover-designer. The editor. My beta-readers. All who give their time, talent, and effort to critique or edit or proofread my novel or book. They deserve a place of pride in my “Acknowledgements.” I look forward to writing that section and making sure every name is included. I would consider the book incomplete without the pages dedicated to thanking them for making my work presentable.
It’s thinking about my novel and my book, and working on them — even if I’m just rambling on about some new “what if” questions that come to mind — that helps dispel those doubts.
I don’t need a room of my own. I don’t need Scrivener or any designer writing software. Microsoft Word has always served me well, and for taking notes and saving ideas from the internet, I have been grateful over and over for Evernote (especially the app on my iPhone).
And when the same doubts pop up, suggesting I need to be different somehow — be more extroverted, be more confident, be more thick-skinned — I tell them, now, to go bother someone who cares. Or I’ll write another ranty post about them.
I know I’m oversensitive and introverted, and I tend to overreact and take things personally, and that often makes life more difficult than it has to be.
But it doesn’t mean I can’t become the person I was made to be. And it doesn’t mean I can’t succeed as a writer.
It doesn’t mean I can’t keep writing, every day, and steadily improve my craft.
It doesn’t mean, either, that what I write is most likely going to be unreadable and irrelevant to anyone but myself. I’m not the only thin-skinned or nervous writer out there. I know there are more of us.
And we keep writing, anyway.
Because what drives us is bigger than the doubts that try to distract us. The doubts that say “You don’t have what it takes (the stuff, the personality, the talent, the business savvy) to become a successful writer” are irrelevant to the love that compels us to keep writing anyway.
So, keep writing! You and your story matter infinitely more than the doubts that try to stop you.
Doubt doesn’t stand a chance. Love is bigger.