Now, I could regurgitate all of this information again, bore people with pros and cons of going solo in the publishing world. Or I could pose a question.
“What is the point in writing when there is nothing new to say?”
This is the beginning of a writer’s doubt.
I am not a psychologist and I’ve only sort of dabbled in philosophy, so I can’t give an answer that is profound and revolutionary. I am, however, a writer and ever since I started I’ve always had those moments of doubt. “Am I just repeating someone else’s ideas? What can I say? Will anyone read it?”
This chews away at our muse, and in the beginning it can destroy a career before you have picked up a pen. Every creative person has an evil little hag hanging from a lock of hair so it can swing in close and whisper directly into your ear. “Such and such did it better in that book. People are just being nice when they say they liked that short story. No editor will ever take notice of you and you will rot away in a boring office job, get married, have kids, retire, die, and never be remembered for writing that amazing story.” The hag is our self-preservation preventing humiliation. Remember cringing when that kid who thought they could sing always got on stage for the school talent show? Yeah, that’s why we have the hag. Though, you need to know when to listen and when not to.
If you shave off all of your hair, the hag has nothing to cling to and no way of getting close enough to whisper lies. That’s one solution. Or you could pull your hair back into a bun. Or you could ignore my silly metaphors. The point is, you can listen to the hag or you can ignore it and get to work.
We write for many reasons or even just for one reason, it depends on the person; It’s escapism, therapy, recording information. Fundamentally we write for ourselves first and edit for the world after.
“So, how do we overcome doubt?”
Stupid it may sound, but if I’m feeling like crap and I’m thinking that I’m never going to be anything better than I am right this moment, I write it down. Think of it like downloading information from your computer to an external hard drive. If I don’t write then I go a little, okay a lot, more insane than usual. And normally this helps me to escape the doubt and I start on a new idea.
“What’s the point of writing?”
This is how I interpret the world and this is my experience. Putting it out there in the world is me asking, “Is there anyone else out there who is like me?” and usually there is because we’ve shared the same ideas for centuries, learning from each other and adding our own spin to some. Writing is finding our sense of belonging. The same way that readers gravitate to the same genre and re-read books, there is comfort and familiarity there.
We all have doubt, we just need to find our own way for shoving it aside and getting on with creating our own art. Even if that art isn’t one hundred percent original.