Doubt

Writers hear voices–a provocative sentence or two bubbling up in the mind’s ear; a created, or remembered, character beginning to speak autonomously. These are gifts of the creative process to be cherished. Then there are the other voices, the ones that chime in when we’re mustering the energy to get started on a project, or when the first burst of energy has been spent and we’re trying to figure out where to go next. “Why bother?” these voices ask. “You’re not a real writer. That was a dumb idea. You’ll never get it to come out right. What’s the point of going on?”

These doubts are the legacies of childhood, when parents and other adults defined who we were and decreed what we had to do. Back then, writing meant navigating a tangle of rules—spelling, grammar, and “what the teacher wants.” There is safety in all these obsolete limitations; they maintain the status quo. But they have nothing to do with our creative abilities or the vitality of our writing. We must laugh them off our mental stage, embrace the freedom, and forge on.

No one ever postpones or stops writing because of lack of talent or technical expertise. The talent is always there to be tapped, and solutions abound for any technical writing problem. There’s only one thing that can stop us from writing if we let it, and that is self-doubt.

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