Friday, 13 September 2013

The Crippling Self-Doubt of a Writer

All right, I'll admit it. Not exactly the most positive of titles for a thread post, but one that I feel is right for what I want to write about today.

It's something few writers talk about, but something that I think almost all of us feel at one point or another. Even the most self-confident writer out there - the one who can stand up and tell the world 'I've written the best book the world has ever seen' - no doubt still has moments when they wondered if they're really good enough.

I know I do. I'm fairly positive at the moment. I might have self-published my own book (which if you listen to some circles is the ultimate delusion of the bad writer) but I've had steady sales and (so far) only positive reviews, even the ones that were critical were still positive in the overall tone (3 out of five stars is a win to me).

But I still have moments when I look at what I've written, ( or I take part in a pitch competition) and think 'why am I doing this. I'm not good at this'. When a sentence just won't come right or a character is sounding like they're made of cardboard. Or when I can't figure out how to pitch my book in just 140 characters and still make people see what makes it different.

Those are the moments when I lose faith. Those are the moments when I wonder why I dedicate this huge chunk of my time (and it is an insanely huge chunk) to something that in all honesty I might not actually be that good at. All that time when I could be doing something else spent scribbling away or spent online searching for ways to promote my book. Time that could be spent with my boyfriend, or my family and friends. Time walking the dog or riding a bike. Time learning something new, or doing other old hobbies that have dropped by the wayside.

Then I remember, and this is the key bit, I remember why I write. I remember why I cry and scream and drive myself round the bend trying to find just the right word. Why I lose myself in a world populated by figments of my own imagination.

I do it because I don't know how to do anything else. Whether I'm any good or not, I am a writer. It's part of who I am. I don't write for money,or for fame, or even for good reviews. I write because I don't know how not to write. I might go weeks, even months when I haven't put pen to paper, but the stories are always there, the words fighting to get out, the characters begging for their story to be told.

OK, so I can't figure out how to write a 140 character pitch. Who cares. OK so my book has only sold just under 300 copies so far. Means nothing. I will write the sequel, and I will write different book, and another one, and another one. Because I have to. If I didn't I would go crazy.

I have my moments of crippling self-doubt, but I come out of the other side because no matter what happens, I am a writer. It's not a hobby, it's not something I do. It's something I am.

So to my writer friends who might read this, who might go through the same moments of doubt, I can only tell you what gets me through. I write because I love it, and nothing we love can be worthless or bad.

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