“The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.”
― Sylvia Plath.
Writing is a roller coaster ride to say the least. We all have our ups and downs, days when we feel on top of the writing world, and days when we feel like we’re at the bottom. One day we can be confident in our writing, the next we think it’s complete and utter crap. As writers, we can’t let those doubts overwhelm us. On days like this, I personally will keep writing through it, but I’ll stop working on the project that’s getting me down and work on something else, something more fun, something with no pressure attached to it.
One reason we can feel full of doubt is when we compare ourselves with others. I am currently reading a book titled ‘Writing Children’s Fiction’ by Yvonne Coppard and Linda Newberry. In it, Linda Newbery suggests that when you’re writing to consider leaving the book world at arms length. To avoid the news of six-figure deals, multiple books deals, news of film adaptations and festival appearances. It can fill you with a deep sense of inadequacy and pointlessness. She reminds us that we are not trying to compete with other authors.
She says, “Nearly every writer experiences feelings of hopelessness from time to time…In itself that’s no bad thing: doubt is the necessary partner to ambition, and unshakable confidence suggests arrogance and inflexibility. But to keep your doubt in it’s place, it’s best not to feed it by looking for distractions that will make you and your work feel worthless.”
One of the things that really stuck with me was that we aren’t trying to competing with other authors. And I think comparing yourself with others will do nothing but feed your doubt. Your writing is as unique as you are and it has a place in this world. Push through those days of doubt and keep going and remember the reason you write – if you’re like me, it’s a deep compulsion, I write because I have to. The act of writing makes me happy. And that’s what it should be about. I love how Stephen King puts it, “Writing isn’t about making money, getting famous, getting dates, getting laid, or making friends. In the end, it’s about enriching the lives of those who will read your work, and enriching your own life, as well. It’s about getting up, getting well, and getting over. Getting happy, Okay? Getting happy.”
So push away that self-doubt and write, don’t let doubt defeat you. It’s an enemy a writer may never shake, so you have to be stronger than it.