While I have accepted (and experienced) the well-known phenomenon of writer’s doubt, it’s recently occurred to me that this is not the only shared part of the experience of writing. There’s a whole emotional loopy thing that begins when you start writing and as far as I’ve heard never ends, although the pattern of loopings won’t stay the same, or be the same for each writer. As I see it, there are the following components:
Self doubt – Confidence – Excitement – Doubt – Fear – Determination
I realise there’s a double dose of doubt in there, and that’s because it’s such a wretched and recurring problem! Also, there are probably more parts that could be listed, and subtle mixtures that occur, however these are the main culprits that writers seem to flit through on a regular basis. Using myself as an example: I was actually reasonably confident when I started writing, and when I showed someone my first efforts I swooped into a mix of fearful excitement, swiftly to be replaced with self-doubt. Slowly my confidence returned as I wrote and read and connected with other writers, only to give in to doubt once again. But I became determined to continue.. . . . . and so on and so on. I’m certain you get the idea and hope at least some other writer’s experiences support my theory!
Question: Does this emotional hotchpotch have any reason or purpose?
I suggest yes, and this may surprise some people – it certainly did me when I realised! If you’re experiencing any or all of these fluctuating emotions in connection with your writing, or in fact with anything in your life, it means something is happening with it. It’s not static and still, but you’re taking chances and (hopefully) moving it forwards. Confidence, determination and excitement give you the oomph to keep going through the other times and remind you of (one of) the reasons for sticking with this. Savour these, even if it’s plain determination, it’s a brilliant thing to feel. As for doubt being useful, much as I hate to admit it, maybe it is. It makes you examine your work and check things six(teen) times before declaring them finished and sending them off. It shows you care. Plus if that’s not enough, how about this; there’s probably some quote telling you you’re not being brave if there’s nothing to fear. Well, I say you’re not being confident if you’ve not fought through doubt. You can appear confident, but if you’ve never experienced the opposing emotion, that apparently confident state is . . . not false, but just your natural one maybe? I don’t know, I’m making all this up as I go!
This post comes about because of another I did recently, Little Girl Lost. This was a short story I put on here, because I wanted to start getting my writing ‘out there’ – part of a ‘stop being chicken and go for it’ thing I’m working on! Anyway, the point is that when I put it there I was reasonably confident with the piece. Then I started thinking: it’s actually really weird. I only chose that one because it was short and I didn’t think it would be used for anything else. That was a really bad idea, because that’s not how I write normally; it was something I wanted to try out and I’m not sure it worked all that well but then I’ve gone and put it on the internet. I should take it down quick! No, what goes up stays up. But if it’s giving completely the wrong impression. . . ? Hence the whole loopy emotions in connection with writing.
Maybe this is something you’ve never thought about before. By doing so you might learn to recognise when fear or doubt is starting to hold you back and can coax yourself out of it before it gets too bad, and while confidence is good, remember it can also lead to over-hasty and over-confident decisions, so be wary. Or maybe you’ll just drive yourself crazy!