The Four Horsemen of Writing: Doubt

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Welcome back to this odd, end of year sequence.  Let’s get right into this member of the Four Horsemen of Writing.  It’s closely related to the others and one could even say that it can be born from its siblings.  It can also trigger procrastination, so it’s a rather unique one to place.  So, what is it . . . You see it in the title, but here we go anyway.

Doubt

We know this one very well.  It can show up at any point during the process and usually when we have our guard down.  Maybe you have doubts about the initial idea or fee like an imposter once you hit publish.  It can pop up after writing a section regardless of the work you put into it.  All you need is a flicker of doubt and it will run rampant through your brain.  One can’t even predict how long it will last too.  Maybe it will last for a few hours and maybe it will go for years. That’s why this tricky horseman can be so destructive, but I’d still put it at #2 as far as sneaky damage.

Doubt also births things like imposter syndrome and author anxiety/depression.  So, it’s rather sinister and can even leak into other aspects of our lives.  If it strikes hard enough, an author may start questioning multiple life choices.  One needs to be very careful when doubt starts rearing its head.  Best to take a step back and find someone to talk to who will help you get through this period.  Not a devil’s advocate or someone who is against you writing in the first place.  You need a real friend that will put this horseman back in the dungeon and help seal the door.

Now for the questions:

  1. How often do you suffer from doubt when writing?
  2. Is there a part in the process that holds more doubt than others?
  3. What do you do to handle doubt?

About Charles Yallowitz

Charles E. Yallowitz was born, raised, and educated in New York. Then he spent a few years in Florida, realized his fear of alligators, and moved back to the Empire State. When he isn't working hard on his epic fantasy stories, Charles can be found cooking or going on whatever adventure his son has planned for the day. 'Legends of Windemere' is his first series, but it certainly won't be his last.
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21 Responses to The Four Horsemen of Writing: Doubt

  1. I notice my doubts are always worse when I’m tired. If I try and deny the doubt, I give it more strength. So I find it best to simply allow it to be there, along with everything else, and simply get on with things. Great post, Charles 💕🙂

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    • (Sorry. This ended up in spam for some reason.)

      That’s a curious tactic. So, it sits there in your mind and you just accept it. Most people say to get rid of it, which does seem to cause an exhausting struggle. I’ll have to try this next time I’m feeling doubtful.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Allowing things while not feeding them extra energy is such a relief, Charles. It’s one of the many helpful things I learnt during my 13 years living in a Zen temple. Hard work but worth it! Sometimes it helps to envision it as being like sitting below a bridge and letting the traffic go by overhead instead of trying to run amongst the lanes trying to stop the cars. If you do try this approach, I’d love to know how you get on. It takes practice, though … much like anything! 💕🙂

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      • My anxiety issues are already laughing at me. It’ll be a tough trick to pull off since my anxiety is epically bad.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I deal with doubt on a daily basis. The biggest doubt feeder is just before pushing that button to publish. The questions come fast and furious. Should I sleep on it? Are all the typos fixed? Is the story tight enough? What about that ending? Will readers like it? The only way to handle doubt in my mind is to face it head-on and keep in mind that I will try to do my best. Also, the fact that writing and publishing a book won’t kill anyone, including myself, helps.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. 40 years ago, I was fraught with doubt, which was appropriate. It motivated me to listen to experienced mentors, go to writer’s workshops, complete graduate level creative writing courses, read books on story development, and absorb feedback. And I kept writing until at age 50 I had to make a choice: pension-providing career or writing. I wisely chose the former (see my post: The Publishing Fairy). But I kept writing, and after retiring, wrote several novels (self-pubbed), started blogging et al. The last vestiges of my doubt did not disappear until a paid reviewer wrote that I was “clearly a very good writer.” I think that for most of us doubt about our ability to write remains until a credible voice (a bona fide reviewer or a lit rep who takes you on) validates your work.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. L. Marie says:

    1. I doubt myself most of the time.
    2. I tend to be more doubtful when I return to writing fiction after an absence. I wonder if I’m too rusty and then fret over how to even begin. If I’m contracted to write something, I sometimes doubt whether what I write will be considered good enough.
    3. Pray then proceed. I’ve tried giving up as a response to doubt, but found that quitting never helps me to conquer doubt.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. 1) How often do you suffer from doubt when writing?
    Almost never, and I feel like this is bragging, so I’ll just leave it at that.

    2)Is there a part in the process that holds more doubt than others?
    When I’m preparing to submit to markets I have more doubt that I’m submitting to the right place or that editors will like the work.

    3) What do you do to handle doubt?
    I summon my Angel of Defiance and do it anyway.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. V.M.Sang says:

    I constantly have doubts. Is the beginning too slow, have I mastered show don’t tell, is the ending satisfactory, are my characters believable, do they develop satisfactorily, will readers want to know what they do?
    All these and many more fill my mind, including should I keep writing? The thing that I tell myself when I think this last thing is that I have 2 series going and I can’t stop in the middle of them.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. My answers all kind of blend together. I suffer from doubt frequently, but try to work through it. Editing does it to me more than anything, and I even created the raven of doubt for my blog. No suggestions to anyone since mine ebbs and flows. Try to move forward when the meter is low.

    Liked by 1 person

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