"Give someone a book, they'll read for a day. Teach someone how to write a book, they'll experience a lifetime of paralyzing self-doubt." - Lauren DeStefano
People ask me for advice. I don't give it. Instead, I share my experience. And my experience is that paralyzing self-doubt comes with the territory. The more I learn about the craft of writing, the more difficult it seems and the more I doubt my process. But I don't stop learning. I continue reading, taking classes, attending workshops, visiting writing groups, and practicing. This final thing, practice, is key.
But what counts as practice? Do the whiny writing practices I send via email to a small group of fellow Natalie Goldberg workshop attendees count? Do the completely disorganized, more of an outline than a manuscript, first-drafts of several novels count? Does the polishing and re-polishing and polishing again of the book about my father that may never be published count?
I'm going to count it all. Every. Last. Word.
I suggest you do as well.
Why? Because any other answer means we've been wasting our time and I don't believe that. I had to write every word I've ever written to get me to the state of mind to work on my current project, Twenty-Six Point Freaking Two: The Memoirs of an Emotionally Unstable, Middle-Aged Marathoner. For the first time in my life I have confidence in my work. Yes, paralyzing self-doubt creeps in from time to time, but beneath that lies the knowledge that with this book,I've created something worth sending out into the world.
So if you ask me about paralyzing self-doubt, I'll tell you not to give up. Look up the many resources available on my website. Find methods that work for you. And when the doubt creeps in, think of me sending whiny emails. Let that image make you strive for something greater! I'll be here continuing to practice beside you as well.