Overcoming Doubt

Like many people, I’d always had the dream of becoming a writer, but I’d never written anything. When I decided to actually make a go of it, the first thing I realized is that writing is a lot of work.

Writing is hours of sitting at your computer, outlining, drafting, writing, rewriting, rewriting, rewriting, submitting, getting rejected, and then writing some more.

And it can be hard to justify spending all that time writing when you aren’t meeting any of your goals. Or when everything you send out gets rejected.

When the tendrils of doubt start to creep in, I tell myself a few things.

  1. No one starts out knowing how to write.
  2. Writing is a craft. It can take years to reach basic proficiency.
    • It’s normal to work really hard and still not be that good. I actually find this idea heartening, since it’s means there’s hope that if I keep working, I’ll get better. Ira Glass (of This American Life) created some videos on storytelling, where he offers some great insights about the time it takes to become competent in creative pursuits.
  3. Being rejected doesn’t mean your work is bad.
    • Editors get a lot of great stuff they want to publish, but can’t. Maybe they loved it, but it’s not right for the magazine. Maybe they just accepted something with a similar theme. Just keep submitting.
  4. Writing is a joy in and of itself.
    • External validation is nice but feeling that I’ve completed a story I’m proud of is even better.