Self-doubt, Part 1
Have you ever met a writer (usually a very young one) who tells you, “I love to write! I can’t wait to sit down each morning. I love everything about it!”
My first thought: “Either this guy is crazy … or he’s living in a dimension with which I am not familiar.”
Likewise, I’ve encountered writers who will tell you of their work-in-progress, “It’s dynamite! Readers are gonna love it!”
Again I think, “What planet does this dude inhabit? Because it sure ain’t the one I live on.”
Here’s my mantra re self-doubt:
If I’m not crippled with self-doubt for at least the first nine months of a project (and sometimes a lot longer), something is wrong.
You and I should be feeling self-doubt.
We should be terrified.
1. Because self-doubt comes (often) from trying to second-guess readers’ response to what we’re writing.
We can’t do that. Nobody can. William Goldman was 100% right when he said, “Nobody knows anything.”
2. But the main freight of self-doubt is simply Resistance, i.e. our own self-sabotage. And the First Law of Resistance is:
The more important a project is to the evolution of our soul, the more Resistance we will feel to it.
In other words, self-doubt is good. Massive self-doubt tells us that our Resistance, sensing the positive power of the book/screenplay/painting/dance/symphony we are working on, has pulled out all the stops, trying to undermine us and make us give up.
When I ask a writer of her current project, “How’s it going?”, the answer I want to hear is, “I hate it … I’m so confused … I have no idea what I’m doing … this is going to be a disaster!”
If you and I ain’t feeling self-doubt, we ain’t working.