face.headache.doubt. by Patrick_Denker at

photo by Patrick Denker at

Self-doubt will kill you as a creative soul. Does that sound like drama-llama overreaching to you? Well, it isn’t. I suspect all writers occasionally lie awake in the dark of night thinking, “I am a fraud. Someone is going to discover how unclever and uncreative and unwriterly I am and boot me out of The Cool Kids Writers Club.”

Don’t believe me? How about Tennessee Williams, one of the finest writers produced in the United States in the last century. “I don’t believe anyone ever suspects how completely unsure I am of my work and myself and what tortures of self-doubting the doubt of others has always given me.”

Or maybe Stephen King, permanent denizen of the bestselling lists. “Writing fiction, especially a long work of fiction can be difficult, lonely job; it’s like crossing the Atlantic Ocean in a bathtub.
There’s plenty of opportunity for self-doubt.”

And self-doubt will sap your energy, make you second-guess your every decision and choice, paralyze your very mind.

What to do? Perhaps the best thing is to *drum roll, please* keep writing, you silly beast! Keep.Writing. If what you write today is lousy, well, it’s lousy. I have a file in my computer called “Crap I Don’t Want to Crap Out.” It’s my “boy, this stuff is lousy, but there might be a sentence or a phrase or something worth salvaging in here, so I’ll save it” file. When I can’t write decent stuff, I write anyway and stash it all there.

Give yourself permission to write badly, if you have to. Just write. Write anything. Anything at all. To quote the amazing Maya Angelou, “What I try to do is write. I may write for two weeks, ‘the cat sat on the mat, that is that, not a rat.’ And it might be just the most boring and awful stuff. But I try. When I’m writing, I write. And then it’s as if the muse is convinced that I’m serious and says, ‘Okay. Okay. I’ll come.’”

If it’s good enough for Ms. Angelou, it’s good enough for me. And you.

Photo credit: Patrick_Denker at

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