One of my favorite quotes about writing is this:
“And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.” –Sylvia Plath
It’s the reminder that, above all, I can never let self-doubt win. Because let’s be honest: everyone doubts themselves. Even if on the exterior they ooze confidence, I guarantee that in the darkest corners of their being, they sometimes, at some point, feel it creeping in. It’s inevitable. I’ve stopped asking, “Is this normal?” and started thinking, “Beat it, punk. I don’t have time for you.”
It’s easy to let the crippling fear of self doubt paralyze you. That bugger is a thorn who craves breaking you. But I think when we realize that this isn’t something unique to us, that even the most fabulous, amazing storytellers among us have felt it and probably still feel it at times, then we can square our shoulders and push self-doubt out. Slam the door shut in its face. Recognize the bait it uses, the repeated pattern of assault and re-entry so we can squash it before it takes hold.
Because if you let it take hold, you will quit. And if you quit, you’ll never reach your dreams. This is something I can’t–and won’t–afford. I know in the deepest part of me, the part that self-doubt tries to overshadow, that I can do this. That I will do this. It’s just a matter of time. In that time, I’ll keep learning, improving because that’s what we have to do. We can’t stay static. (Heck, this is a human reality, not just a writer one. We never stop learning and we never should. Otherwise, what good are we to society? To the world? To ourselves?)
I know I’m not alone. I’ve read blog posts of New York Times best-sellers who tackle this issue. The fear that seeps in with a blank page, with a new series, with revisions. Can I do this? What if I have no more words in me? What if…? And time and time again, the answer is yes, I can do this. Yes, I have more words. Yes….
So self-doubt, hear me: Get the eff out. You’re not welcome in this creative space.