There are times when I don’t feel good enough. I look at what I’m working on and think it’s garbage and I don’t know how to fix it. I have no clue what I’m doing. Nobody is going to want to read this story. Everyone else is doing so much better than I am. Why do I keep bothering with this? I’m no good. I’m not a writer.
Ah, writer’s doubt. I know that feeling so well. It hits me at least once a month, sometimes just momentarily, sometimes it lingers for days. It could be a devestating, debilitating thing if I weren’t so stupidly stubborn and unable to leave things unfinished that I can’t walk away. Which works out in my favor, of course, as persistence is a big part of success as a writer.
But there are times when I’m not feeling very successful. I’m not feeling inspired. I’m not even feeling coherent. In those times of struggle, and like I said, they happen more often than I’d like, that doubt creeps up into the back of my mind like a spider looking for a soft spot to lay her eggs. Those are the times that I start comparing myself to other writers. I look at who’s getting published, what they’re getting published, and then I look at my little list of credits and wonder what the hell I’m doing.
Then I look at what I’m writing and wonder the same damn thing.
It’s a frustrating part of the writing game. I try not to let it get to me. I remind myself about the persistence factor. I remind myself to be patient. I remind myself that not every story I’ve ever written is crap and there is nothing wrong with the places that have published my work. They have good taste.
(Does anyone have that problem? Not only do you doubt yourself, but you doubt anyone on your side, too? I wouldn’t be surpised if I’m the only one and I hope I don’t offend anyone with my issues.)
I have no fool-proof method to combat it. I just keep plugging away and try to ignore that voice in my head that says I suck. I admit that some days the doubt manages to slow me down. It roughs me up. It makes me question my commitment to this writing life.
And that’s where the doubt stops. I don’t want to be doing anything else. I want to be writing something. Short stories, novels, blog posts, personal essays, non-fiction, articles, whatever. I want to be writing. I would be writing even if I wasn’t getting published.
Knowing that, recognizing it, really helps me get back on the mule and keep going.
And sometimes, if I’m lucky, the mule kicks the doubt for good measure.
Stories By The Numbers
Submitted: 1 (only “Such a Pretty Face” is still out)
Accepted: 1! “Playing Chicken” will be published in the Library of Horror anthology Made You Flinch–Again!