Thursday, October 13, 2011

Shadows of Doubt

I found this quote the other day that’s been haunting me since I read it.  It’s from Gilbert K. Chesterton and depicts precisely how I feel about being a writer.
A good novel tells us the truth about its hero; but a bad novel tells us the truth about its author.

As a innate marketer, I fundamentally believe that if you create a great product, then  you've given yourself the best possible chance at success.  For me, this is especially true when crafting a novel. And because creating and refining one's writing can be endless, it leaves room for colossal doubt.  At least, it does for me.

Doubt stalks me like it does most writers I suspect.  I guess one could say when you question your writing and have shadows of doubt; you’re stretching yourself to be the best.  That’s not a bad thing, is it?  I once read that bestselling author, Dean Koontz, in the beginning of his career, deliberated over every word, striving to form the perfect sentence, paragraph and ultimately the perfect novel.  He’s one of my favorite authors so you can imagine how surprised I was when I read that.  This somewhat proves my point about Chesterton’s quote and my concern about self-doubt.

The Huffington Post featured a piece from Ann Patchett about on how to avoid doubt which I found extremely helpful.  In her post, she suggests splitting the writer and the critic into two sectors. Basically, write first and judge later.  She’s absolutely correct about that.  I’ll take it a step further and say, “staying focused” is another essential factor.

But what I’m interested in is how do you deal with self-doubt?  Is it something that will forever cling to our subconscious?  Does it ever relent?

And was Stuart Smalley actually onto something when he coined this phrase?  

I'm good enough

Mina B.


Tara Tyler said...

i work despite my self doubt. i ignore it and push it aside.
but it wont go away completely until i get published and i can say, "ha!" to it =)

great quote and advice (we are always so hard on ourselves!)

REINHARDT! said...

You hit it on the head when you said that you need to stay focused. We have to first admit that doubt will always be there, no matter what. One of my favorite stories is about NBA great Bill Russel, one of the greatest basketball players ever, who got so nervous before games that he'd throw up. Every single game.

I feel that the trick to tackling doubt is to focus on your goals, and then try your best to outrun doubt for as long as you can. Eventually it catches up, but you just start sprinting again.

Mina Burrows said...

@Tara - Pushing it aside is something I need to do more often. Thx.

@Reinhardt! - I'm amazed how some of the greats are haunted by self doubt. It's so strange to me. And truthfully, it only shows how normal it is to doubt oneself.

Lesann Berry said...

I love the Smalley phrase! I wonder if the doubt ever really leaves? One the one hand it makes us worry enough to be meticulous in writing and editing, but on the other hand, doubt can be debilitating.

I've recently participated in a critique group that has noted things in my manuscript that I've found puzzling - yet ignored areas I felt reflected problems. This has shown me two things: the first is that it's essential to get other perspectives and the second is to know when the other perspectives need to be ignored.

Great post.