The Wild Fire That is Self Doubt


Writing is hard. It just is. As the saying goes, people don’t like to write, they like to have written. I can’t speak for all writers, but when I can’t create, it’s not because I hate the act. I love writing, by my struggle to keep writing stems from overthinking. I’m always worried that what I type won’t be good enough. My mind becomes overrun with self doubt like:

This character’s motives are all over the place.

The setting isn’t be used properly.

The setting doesn’t make sense.

This dialogue is cheesy

The flow is too slow

The flow is too fast

What if this scene doesn’t turn out the way I envisioned it in my head?

What if this entire project is cliche?

Self doubt destroys creativity. Much like a wild fire, it starts small. Maybe someone dropped a cigarette and it steadily singes the grass around it. This could be stopped, if someone were nearby or observant. If someone simply stepped on it, then they could keep moving forward in a fire free field until another cigarette fell and they’d have to step on that one too. If this doesn’t take place then what starts off as a trail of smoke transforms into a sea of flames. It gets out of hand quickly and once that fire finds it’s legs and runs, it’s nearly impossible to stop it. All you can do is wait for it to pass and sweep away the ash. Try to plant something new in the burnt fields it left.

It’s difficult for me to get past the self doubt and I’ve let it burn away my creativity a few times. I think being creative makes us over thinkers by default. Your imagination runs a little wild for better or worse, but there are ways to live with it. I usually put on music so I can get lost in a scene or I tell myself to at least finish one page instead of quitting altogether. These are little things, but doesn’t Smokey the Bear tell us that we are the ones who can stop a forest fire? Maybe that starts with small steps.


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