The doubt monster.
It gnaws at in the back of your mind. I’m not good enough. I’m not smart enough.
It can make you hide your writing, dabble at it (you can’t fail if you don’t commit), or simply put it off.
Or it can just haunt you. Taunt you. I can’t hack it. I will fail. Why even bother?
Sometimes it’s not a voice in your head, it’s other people –friends, teachers, parents. Other people who say you’ll never make it as a writer, it’s a terrible idea, quite now while you’re ahead.
As much as we’d like to say things like this don’t matter, sometimes they do. Sometimes they stay with us for a long time.
I have a few instances in my life that stayed with me–and affected me taking writing seriously for a long time. A high school guidance counselor who told me I’d never be an author. An elementary school friend who said I couldn’t be an author because she was going to be one and I was “copying.”
You are also not alone.
Pretty much every writer I’ve ever talked to has felt this way.
It happens when you’re considering writing.
It happens when you’re an aspiring writer.
It happens when you’re a published writer.
I’ve had plenty of these moments myself, and this fear of failure–and being told you can’t do it. My personal favorite (it makes me more angry than anything) is my ex-sister-in-law’s parents who told me that “people greater than you” have tried and failed to write a book. I also had a former boss say “it’s nice that you’re trying to write…things” when I had a book coming out (but that whole “A YA isn’t a real book” is a topic for another day.)
As one author said to me once “don’t let the jackwagons get you down.”
Publishing is full of ups and downs. The one thing you can control is your writing.
Even on those bad days, I knew that if I failed I didn’t want it to be because I didn’t try. So I did. It was hard in the beginning — to commit, to get serious, to put myself out there. It was a process.
It’s still a process. I still have those doubty days.
And it’s okay.
Still, I keep writing and carry on. This is my dream. My writing. And I’m not going to let doubt–from myself or others stand in my way. I keep writing. Keep learning. Keep growing.
My friend A.C. Gaughen did a TEDx Talk on this very topic of doubt.
One of the things that really resonated with me was that you have to be brighter than a spark.
To me this means that if you’re going to do it — DO IT. Go for it 110%. Don’t just shine like a diamond, burn like a bonfire.
I can do it.
You can do it.
Whether you’re just considering writing, or you’ve written many books —you can do it.
Because you know what?
You’re good enough. You’re smart enough. And gosh darn it, air pirates like you.