Do you have that novel in your mind that you’ve always wanted to write?
Do you have that great storyline you think should be made into a screenplay?
Do you have that autobiography you’ve been thinking about sitting down and hammering out now that you’ve reached a place in your life where you have the time?
That’s step one.
Now comes step two.
Fear of failure.
I have a quarter written manuscript that I have poured my heart and soul into for the past several months sitting open on this very computer right now. I’ve had people read over it. I’ve had my publisher read over it. I’ve read over it a number of times.
And, not to toot my own horn, but I love it.
And so did everyone else.
But today as I was reading back over it once more to capture the feeling of the story I am trying to tell I found – before I knew it – in the midst of a black hole of despair.
Nothing triggered it.
I was happy all day today.
I got up, kissed my husband goodbye, walked the dog, had breakfast, worked out, caught up on social media, sat down to read and get to work –
There it was.
Doubt. Self doubt.
I have been published multiple times. I get some pretty good reviews. While I am not the biggest seller out there – I know that at the end of the day – I can tell a story. And a good one at that.
And most days that’s more than enough to keep me going.
But today, I felt like a fraud. A poser. A no good craptastic punk who couldn’t string two coherent sentences together.
When my husband came in, and we had dinner, he noticed I was upset and inquired about it like a good spouse does.
“You go through this every time you write,” he said shaking his head and looking upon me with a gentle gaze of patience.
He’s right. I do go through this and so will you. Over and over and over again.
It is the loneliest feeling in the world to try and create something you’re not 100 percent sure the world wants or will treat well once you’ve handed it over.
I am not going to give you a pep talk, espouse one of those OBNOXIOUS one liners on those OBNOXIOUS motivational posters in offices the nation over. You know which one’s I’m talking about. Those posters that, when you’re having a bad day makes you want to punch someone….yup, them.
I am not going to tell you that what you’re working on is important, that it will be well received, that you will make a million dollars, and your work will one day be taught in universities.
Because all of that may not be true. Hell, it most likely won’t be.
But I will tell you , that feeling you get when you’re up late at night hovering over your laptop, sitting at your desktop, or scrawling through a notebook curled up on the couch – when that moment of terrifying self doubt washing over you – is completely normal.
I’ll also advise you not to finish it for the enjoyment of the world. Finish it for the satisfaction of saying, “I did that.”
That’ll mean more than anything.
I did that.
And if you still don’t feel better go burn one of those fucking posters in effigy.
It happens to all of us in creative fields. It happened with my architectural designs, it happens with my paintings. That moment of paralizing fear: is this good enough. I know better. It has to be good enough for me, bla bla bla. It still paralizes me with fear.