Writers and doubt

What is it about being a writer that fills us with such uncertainty?

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Writers and doubt.

PB and J.

Politicians and ambiguity.

Sometimes, I wake up, write for my mundane corporate job, then internally squeal with delight at the idea of diving into something I enjoy – the world of fiction.

Some days, I read something I’ve written and I’m moved.  Proud, even.

But most days – like today – the doubt fills me, like a hot bubble of air.

Is it sharp enough?  The bubble fills … Are the characters layered?  The air tightens against my ribcage … Is the conflict believable?  The heat rises into my chest, then weighs on my spine, pushing me down into the depths of the sofa, where I sit, trying to convince myself that I can be happy without writing in my life.

But I can’t.


Is it the idea of “success” (and the difficulty of defining it) which hinders us?

Or is it the constant search for a better story – a more poignant plot?

I don’t know the answer.

But, it seems, I might just have to accept it for what it is – an exclusive relationship.

Mac and cheese.

Host and parasite.

If I want to write (and I have to), then perhaps I should accept doubt as my traveling companion.  I have to acknowledge that I may never be without that little elf on my shoulder, whispering in my ear “it ain’t no Stephen King.” 

(Why must the elf be grammar impaired?  I don’t know the answer to that either.)

Here’s a few other writers (emerging and otherwise) who have been exploring this topic recently:

An honest account

Writing through it

Working with it

At least we aren’t alone.

Leave a comment


  1. Oh, it’s probably an off-shoot of the perfectionist in us. We want to craft the best we can, and it’s only natural that we compare to other writers – writers we admire – which rarely leaves us content. Then there’s the simple fact that the goal for most doing this writing gig have the inevitable goal of putting the book before others. Like public speaking, that always fires up the nerves a touch. Makes us second guess ourselves. It’s gut reaction.

    The doubt will always be there – or at least, will always return – but we have to learn how to quiet it, to stuff our ears against its whispers, and push forward in spite of it. Which is to say, in spite of ourselves.

  1. The Index Card Method « I am a writer … dangit.
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