1. A feeling of uncertainty: an undecided state of mind.
2. An inclination to disbelieve.
3. an uncertain state of things
Doubt is a word that every writer knows about. We have all had a moment in our lives where that creepy little bugger rears its ugly head and sends our world into a spiral of self loathing. If you ask me, I like to think of doubt as a nasty little Imp that will perch on our shoulders and whisper into our ears. Kind of like this little guy.
Not only is Doubt a mean-spirited chap, he is also rather intelligent. He will never waste an opportunity, and will always strike with a ruthlessness that will leave your head spinning.
For me, this always comes at the end of the first draft. Ironically the place where I am right now. I spent the most of last week lost on a doubt fuelled quandary.
It is always the same, that’s another one of Doubt’s strengths. Even if you see him coming, there is nothing you can do to stop it. Like trying to not jump when Carrie’s hand comes out of the grave.
Whenever working on the final scene of my novel, the doubts come. Doubt starts small, throwing jabs at us, working out what are defences are like.
‘Are you sure this is it, it’s a bit weak’ He will say,
‘It’s fine, I know the weak points and will work on them once it comes to editing.’ We tell him. It silences him, for a while. He retreats, studies us. He sees another spot, and jabs again, a little harder now.
‘Why are you saying that. That’s pointless, nobody’s going to read that.’ He will jab, and then follow up with the hard ‘That’s weak’. It shocks us, we reel a bit, but we recover.”
‘It’s not weak. It is setting [xxx] up for later on, it’s part of the character arc. Just trust me, I know what I’m doing.’ We pushed back, standing out ground.
Doubt however is crafty. He feigns an injury, lulls us into a false sense of security and then, just as we lease expect it he pounces. Charging us down like Jonah Lomu hurtling towards the try line.
‘You know this is weak, nobody will like it. What are you playing at. Look at what others are writing, read their sites. They are writers, you are just a hack. How many copies have you sold then… hey?‘ He bellows as he reigns down self-confidence denting blows.
By the time this little bastard is finished with us, we are broken and curled up into a ball, afraid to even think about our manuscript without that black wave of despair enveloping us.
Luckily, while Doubt is resourceful, writers are resilient. We have had people telling us all our life that we are dreaming, that we should concentrate on real life. Ok, we may take a knee, and even the odd standing eight count, but at the end of the day, we stand back up, we seek out doubt and bring the fight to him. Because you can’t stop being a writer and more than you can stop breathing. It is in our blood. We cannot read a newspaper article or over hear a conversation without having it stored away for future use.
Regardless of the success we achieve, Doubt will always be our companion. He will sit beside us in the passenger seat and offer his comments as he sees fit, but… being a writer is a lonely profession, so maybe a bit of company is a good thing. Maybe Doubt really is a writer’s worst best friend.