I have days, even weeks, where I doubt myself. When the words just won’t come no matter how focused I am, I feel that the last thing I am supposed to be is a writer. I doubt my ability, my commitment, and my desire to write.
When I doubt my writing ability, it leads to doubting other things in life. My self-esteem comes under attack at these moments. I begin to feel that all the steps I’ve ever taken to pursue writing have been a grave mistake. And I wonder if I shouldn’t have taken a different fork in the road somewhere that would have led me to another career, another passion. To something where I am not filled with so much doubt.
I start to wonder what if. I’m really good at that game. What if I majored in something else in college besides English, where would I be today? What if my fifth grade English teacher never encouraged me to enter that region wide grade school writing competition? What if the sky turned green one day? What if?
There are days when the doubts plague me worse than others. I look at what I wrote for the day and see only the flaws. Never dwelling on the gems that do shine through even in the rough draft. I can lose myself in the doubts, believing the doubts are absolute fact and not the creations of my own mind where fear lives.
I have a good friend, a kind, caring, loving friend (who is also brutally honest, which is the best way to be) that tells me all the time that people suffer doubts all the time. Everyone, she says, has doubts. You just have to acknowledge your doubt and press on anyway. I find it strange to think she has doubts as she always seems so self-assured.
But I have learned she is right. Even the most self-assured people suffer from doubts now and then. The only difference between them and me is they continue on anyway, barely giving pause to their doubts before picking up their shield of self-confidence and carrying on with the fight while I struggle with my doubt, as if it is quicksand. There is a way out, I just panic and don’t see it quick enough.
And yet, I can’t see myself as anything but a writer. Even if the only place I have been published is in the local newspaper during my 12 year stint as a reporter, I still feel like a writer. Every day I face the screen of my computer, my incomplete novel staring me in the face. 2,000 words complete, 10,000 words complete, 15,000 words complete, 21,000 words complete. Each day I add to my word count, I grow stronger in my desire to be a writer.
And as my desire grows, so does my conviction that I am meant to be a writer. And with that strength, I am able to battle the doubt.