The Power of Self Doubt

Anyone who is seriously perusing a career as a writer is familiar with the ups and downs that is the writer’s life. Some days you’re riding the top of that emotional wave as the words just flow from your fingers. Hanging ten from that proverbial surfboard of creation as the ocean of ideas washing through your mind batters itself against white beach of the blank page leaving in its wake the basis of what will become a powerful story.

For every peak in the creative process, where it seems nothing can stand in your way, behind or beyond lies a shadowy valley of self doubt. When that creative wave dashes you against the unyielding stone of cold reality, you tumble from that peak to land in the valley of the shadow of death for the creative process. 

Suddenly the words that had flowed so freely dry up and one is left staring at the blank page as blood begins to form upon their forehead. Who wants to read anything I write? Why do I waste my time doing this? Who really cares anymore?

Self doubt has silenced the muse. It has thrown a monkey wrench into the machinery of creation, clogging the gears, and stopping them dead in their tracks. Everyone who dares to believe they can create something another person wants to read faces these moments from time to time.

The greats have carried on their own personal battles with self doubt. Struggling in the years of anonymity before they became an overnight success. Stephen King threw away the original manuscript for Carrie believing no one would want to read it. His wife rescued it from the trash and convinced him to carry on. Great writers from the past were known to agonize over the placement of every word, never really believing themselves that what they were doing would ever be widely accepted. 

How many unknown greats have given up entirely, trashing their greatest works, and turning their backs on their dreams to accept second best? How many Lovecraft’s, Shelly’s, or Stokers have given up even before they started?

Here are a few inspiring quotes from some greats in the business to help inspire you.

Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.
- E. L. Doctorow

If you can tell stories, create characters, devise incidents, and have sincerity and passion, it doesn’t matter a damn how you write.
- Somerset Maugham

Any man who keeps working is not a failure. He may not be a great writer, but if he applies the old-fashioned virtues of hard, constant labor, he’ll eventually make some kind of career for himself as writer.
- Ray Bradbury

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