Racked With Doubt

What Should I Do?

A few months ago, I met Nadia L. King (nadialking) on Instagram. She and I became friends. I love the creative things she posts and how encouraging and funny she is.

I visited Nadia’s blog back in January. Her most recent post (at that time) What Now? resonated with things I’ve caught myself worrying about. I asked her if I could reblog her post and she said yes. Thank you, Nadia.

Way To Go!

Congratulations, friend, on publishing your first short story in the U.S. That’s an awesome accomplishment. I’m proud of you.

Worry

In typical writer-fashion, after Nadia shared her good news with her readers she worried about what was next and if she would successfully publish anything else.

. . . I can’t help asking myself, what next? . . .

I’ve entered a few Australian short story competitions and cross everything, with beginners luck, maybe I’ll be shortlisted for one, or dare I hope for more? My stories have been submitted to literary magazines and I try to sit tight and not chew on my nails too often.

But the most overwhelming question in my mind – what if Disappointment was the only thing I’ve written or will ever write, that will make it? This is the thought that disturbs my nightly sleep.

I believe such worries plague all creatives. Are we good enough? Is what we do of any worth? Will this next piece be bought and sold? What if, (and I say this with all of my heart in my mouth) what if none of this is any good?

Feedback

Before I started writing full-time, I worked in the office of a ceramic manufacturing company in the engineering department. I was given specific jobs; some took a few minutes and others took a couple of weeks, depending on the size and complexity of the projects.

About twenty people, each with a cubicle or office, worked on the main floor of the plant. Scattered around the rest of the facility were another couple hundred employees. Someone was always calling, stopping by to shoot the breeze or ask questions about a current project. It was common to hear other people’s phone calls or meetings because of the close proximity of the cubicles.

This made for a bustling work environment. The good thing about it was I knew right away if someone liked me, tolerated me, or hated me. It was easy to tell when people were happy with your work, or had an issue with what you did or did not do.

Writing isn’t like that. Feedback can come at a maddeningly slow rate. I’ve worked on one of my stories for four years and it still isn’t right, although it is close. I’ve worked on another for six months. And yet another I started, didn’t like (the story needed more room than I’d given it) and started over. It’s hard to know if what I’m spending so much time and effort on is really good or completely awful. So why do I keep writing?

Why Do Writers Write?

I love Nadia’s take on why writers do what they do.

Creating anything is a giving of oneself to the world. Your innermost thoughts are shared, offered up in an effort to impact another’s life if only momentarily. Can my short stories transport you to another world that resides in my head? Can I give you another world to peek into? These are small offerings; something to read while you sip your morning coffee or as you lean against the train door on your way into the city.

If I don’t write I feel out of kilter. I am woken in the morning by phrases and sentences chasing each other in my mind. I know I have to get them down. And so I write for my own sanity and for the delight words give me. I write to connect with whoever has chosen to read what I write.

I will keep on writing. Keep on sending out my shorts. My little offerings to the world and hopefully soon, God willing, there will be another Disappointment soon.

I totally understand where she’s coming from. Writing isn’t a choice any longer. There are characters, each with their own story, filling my head. They won’t stop bothering me until I’ve shared their story. When I first started writing I wondered how I would ever come up with enough ideas to write more than one book. Now I wonder if I’ll ever be able to give each of the characters their time in the spotlight. I don’t want to cheat them by doing a sloppy job and writing a great story can take many seasons.

It doesn’t matter how many posts or short stories or books I’ve written. Each time I share my work I’m nervous that no one will notice or care. When I should be working on the next project, I’m wondering do they love it, like it, or hate it? Will they tell me what they think? Will they soften the blow? Will they rip me apart? Will they share my work if they love it?

This is where the doubt can become crippling. After I published a new post, I used to spend time throughout the day checking to see if anyone had commented. I checked each social media account where I’d shared my writing. Had anyone shared the post? Had anyone said anything at all?

You see, writing is a lonely profession. It’s just me and the computer, or paper and pen, depending on the day. It’s easy to forget why I’m working so hard.

What I’ve Learned

I write because it’s what gives me serenity. My work feeds my soul. When I put everything I have into my creation something almost magical happens; my writing affects the reader.

Like Nadia, I know I want to make reader’s lives better with my books. I want to make them smile and laugh. I want to transport them to another world for a little while. I hope my stories will touch their souls.

The thing is I can’t obsess over that. I have to stay true to myself and write the stories the characters tell me. To that end, I’ll continue to work on my craft and good things will happen.

I’ve managed to quit obsessing over whether or what people think of my writing, but I haven’t found a way to stop all my bad writer’s habits. I still doubting my writing, even though I know it’s a waste of energy to do so. Perhaps the doubt comes because I want so much for the characters in my head to impact you the way they have me.

Nadia isn’t giving up. I’m not giving up. You can’t give up. Believe in yourself and work hard.

Nadia L. King, Memopip

All quotes in the post are from Nadia’s post What Now? and are copied with her permission. Click here to read Nadia’s full post that inspired me.

Nadia lives with her family in South Perth near the Swan River in Western Austrailia. She writes every day, either on her blog or on short stories.

Click here to learn more about her story Disappointment.

Thanks again, Nadia, for inspiring me and allowing me to share your words.

What Should I Do?
photo credit: Manolo Guijarro – what should I do? via photopin (license)

Author: Jillian Pearl

I grew up in the Pacific Northwest. As an adult, I moved to Denver, Colorado and continue to live there with my family. Over the years, I've had a variety of jobs, including lifeguard, OTR truck driver, and mechanical drafter. Currently, I am a caregiver for my mom, a blogger, and a contemporary romance author.

10 thoughts on “Racked With Doubt”

    1. Thank you, Janet. It took me several days to write this. When I read Nadia’s post I felt the same way. I knew what she felt and thought I could add something to it. I’m grateful my words touched you. Good luck with your writing.

  1. Thank you Jillian for sharing my words.

    I love how you put this:
    ‘I still doubt my writing, even though I know it’s a waste of energy to do so. Perhaps the doubt comes because I want so much for the characters in my head to impact you the way they have me. Nadia isn’t giving up. I’m not giving up. You can’t give up. Believe in yourself and work hard.’

    Right now back to writing. Thanks again Jillian.

    1. Nadia, you are welcome. I’m so glad you liked how the post turned out and thank you for the kind words about the ending. Thank you for inspiring me to write down my feelings. I hope your writing session went well. Jillian 🙂

  2. A wonderful post, Jillian 🙂 I believe all writers (even the great ones) feel this doubt. We’re creating something, nurturing it, feeding it with time and emotional sweat and tears, before sending it off into the world. Writing is a lonely passion, but in the end, we need to share it.
    Love what you said about staying true to yourself and writing the story the characters tell you – that’s the key, I think, to producing something extraordinary.

    And the lovely Nadia’s words touched something in us all 🙂

    1. Thank you for your kind words. Nadia’s words inspired me. I’m thankful what I wrote meant something to you as well. It’s hard to escape doubt, and even though I know it’s a waste of time, I still catch myself doubting. I remind myself to push that aside and keep writing. I’m thankful I’ve found writer friends who so generously encourage each other every day.

  3. What a lovely post, Jillian! This really resonated with me. Thank you for this inspiration! I also enjoyed reading Nadia’s original post. It’s true; writing is a lonely profession. That’s why it’s been so wonderful meeting other writers like you through Instagram. <3

    1. Hi Nicole, Nadia’s post inspired me. I’m honored that you felt inspired by mine. I love Instagram, I’ve met so many writers who encourage and support each other. It’s just what I’ve needed. I’m glad we met and look forward to getting to know you better. 🙂

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