As I continue working on my first novel, doubt still creeps in off and on. Mostly, on. I ask myself questions like, Am I doing it right? Who will want to read this? Why is it taking me so long? Will this story be interesting to the reader? Will it be entertaining? Is it supposed to be this hard?
The other day, I was looking for some inspiration in one of my old notebooks and came across one of my favorite Shakespeare quotes, “Our doubts are traitors, and make us lose the good we oft might win by fearing to attempt.” I’ve let doubt about my abilities stop me numerous times in the past. Or at least, I’ve let it hold me up for a while.
Once, when I was in my first semester of grad school, I’d been complaining to a fellow student about a paper I’d written. I’d worked on it for what seemed like forever, and it was due in class that night. I was afraid it wasn’t good enough, and the professor would hate it. I wanted to work on it some more, but I was running out of time. The student said to me, “Sometimes you just have to go with what you’ve got.” In other words, just turn it what you have.
All through this novel writing process, I’ve had to push myself to keep going in spite of my doubt. I tell myself, “Move on.” “Keep going.” It occurred to me the other day that the only way to know if I’m any good at this is to finish this book. I need to finish my crappy first draft. Edit, edit, edit. Ask some people to read it for feedback, etc. Edit some more. Then just “turn it in;” i.e., publish it. Then start the process all over again with the next book.
I’ll probably never completely get rid of doubt. I feel like having some doubt will keep me on my toes and keep me from becoming complacent. I want to keep going—I need to keep moving to get through the doubt until I make it out on the other side.