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Doubt – The Writer’s Killer

I was writing. A lot. Too much perhaps. Drowning in an endless sea of fictional stories and characters all crying to see the light of day. Sometimes I was writing for myself. Other times I wrote for my future fans (I can dream). Occasionally I wrote because that’s what I do. There were days when I wrote only a few words and days when I scribbled notes and days when it was entire sections of story. Yet in each of these instances, there was that little sense of discontent that lingered in the dark recesses of my writing. Stalking every thought process. Every idea. Every word.

It didn’t stop me from writing. No. It merely created a sense of doubt to my writing. As though something was wrong with my strong female protagonist, or not enough depth to my wandering male character. The world I built wasn’t rich enough. The plot – not enough sustenance. How my previous works were written by a distinct version of me, in a different mental and emotional state. A literary genius with a fantastic grasp on what he was creating or a bumbling fool trying to sprint through oceans in baggy clothing.

Dissatisfaction rearing its ugly head, telling me “Your writing will never be good enough.” or “Stop this madness, you’re just another sub par writer.” Quit-since-your’re-behind kind of thought process. It can really be crippling.

It would be easier to lower your standards. To pass it off as a hobby for fun and nothing too serious. To give up.

But that is a mistake.

Writing is my passion above all other things. One thing I can claim as my own. That I embrace. To not write would be to die. Not because I have spent so much time and effort and energy into writing and to give up now is foolish. Rather because if I did not write, where would all these stories in my head go. How would I be able to express the feelings that rattle through my bones? To live vicariously through created characters and have the ability to alter their destiny with a couple of letters put together to make logical sense.

Doubt, like hope, can be fickle but powerful. I once wrote this beautiful, meaningful story that resonated with me on so many levels. Doubt snuck in once and I deleted it. I regret it so much, there’s not a time that doesn’t pass when I don’t think about that story. All that potential. Gone. What a waste.

I also, currently, have a story that is brimming with life and potential. I have random bursts of inspiration that mold this story into a masterpiece. Hope spurring it forward to completion because I think it’s a great piece of writing. If only I could have the time and energy and effort to sit through the whole thing and complete it and raise it above the masses like Moses splitting the red sea. Okay maybe that’s pushing it, but that’s what hope does.

I won’t sit here and tell you it’s easy to push doubt away. Or that you can simply manufacture hope on the spur of the moment. It takes sitting down and putting in the effort. To write. To take a break. To enjoy the process and hate it. To take long walks or lie in bed soaking up music or watching your favourite series. To work through your story and write even when it feels like it’s not doing anything.

I know the doubt will pass. I know hope will not be enough. What will remain, however, is every word I have written. So I will continue to write.

How do you deal with doubt in your writing? What has been the most crippling moment in your writing? Have you ever deleted a story and do you regret it?


About Nthato Morakabi

Nthato Morakabi is a South African published author. He has short stories appearing in both international and local anthologies, and has published his first book, Beneath the Wax, which opens his three-part novella series "Wax". He is an avid reader, blogger and writer.

13 responses »

  1. Sharon Charlene

    I can’t really answer your question about how I deal with doubt in my writing, the words aren’t there, but I can say that I thought this post was raw and honest and good. Very good. Hope you keep pushing through.

  2. Doubt is, to put it bluntly, annoying. But it happens to each and every once of us. And like you, I just deal with it. I keep writing anyway. There’s a quote I’ve seen around on Pinterest and I don’t know who originally said it but it was basically, “You are going to be someone’s favorite author someday.” Sounds cocky, but I like it, lol.

    • It is so annoying I agree, and if there was a way to just squash it as soon as it showed up, that would be amazing. Sadly we just got to deal with it.

      Also, as cocky as that quote is, we can look at other authors (Stephen King, J.K Rowling) who were also despondent at one time and now they are our favourite authors. Also – I like it too haha. Gonna put that on a mug or something. xD

      • But doubt shows up with everything, not just writing. We just have to push through it. If we work hard and have the right amount of passion and dedication, we’ve got this.
        Yes, it’s a good quote! I love it, lol. And you have a good point. J.K. Rowling started Harry Potter on a napkin at her waitressing job, I think.

      • Yeah doubt does show up with everything. Just keep pushing through it.

        And yes she did write it on napkins, which is amazing! Imagine how much doubt she must have gone through.

      • I don’t know. I’d be pretty miserable if I were her, lol. I have a hard enough time trying to write between my three jobs.

      • I know right… and maybe doubt and despondency worked as her inspiration.

      • I’ll agree with that.

  3. Did you hold a mirror up to my mind? Haha! You probably know how I deal with doubt… I post about it. And I listen to motivational workout videos while running or biking where enormous-sounding workout gurus yell at me to keep going. My favorite is Rocky Balboa’s speech to his son:

    Let me tell you something you already know. The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It’s a very mean and nasty place and I don’t care how tough you are it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain’t about how hard ya hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done! Now if you know what you’re worth then go out and get what you’re worth. But ya gotta be willing to take the hits, and not pointing fingers saying you ain’t where you wanna be because of him, or her, or anybody! Cowards do that and that ain’t you! You’re better than that!

    This is a great post!! Thanks for sharing. 🙂 I really enjoy sharing the writing journey with you!

    • Haha perhaps we just have the “same” mind when it comes to our writing. These kinds of posts help me with my doubt too, especially the helpful comments from other writers.

      That Rocky quote is just great. I actually haven’t watched Rocky, or if I did I was too young to remember. But that quote is famous and I see why it is so inspirational

      Thank you for your comment and kind words, glad I can share the journey with you 🙂

  4. Pingback: Blog Round Up: May 2017 – Rachel Poli

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