The Doubt Cycle

This month I am participating in the ‘Writing Contest: Overcoming Writer’s Doubt’ held by Positive Writer.” When this topic was announced, it was a no brainer for me. As a writer of prose, poetry, and blogs, and a 20 year career as a songwriter, continuing repetitive doubts nag me on such a regular basis that it’s almost embarrassing. So confessional blogging, here I go!

I am married to a man that has a need to understand things in order to move forward. If I waited to understand my own recurring doubts, I would never write a single line, or note, again, period. Suffice it to say, I do not understand. But I do know - that time and time again nagging doubts creep into my thoughts and life and emotions. 

Doubt is, it comes, it goes; but it doesn’t have to conquer! Although it may return like a sinus headache or a chronic allergy, I can refuse to let it rule. As I humbly choose to accept its presence, it immediately loses some of its power over me.

Doubt is here, but I am writing!

I love the use of the hashtag #amwriting on Twitter. It feels like a tiny proclamation of the will to write! And although doubt, like my shadow, may appear on an otherwise beautiful sunny day, my shadow is not me. It is simply a projected image of me that comes and goes depending on the play of light and dark around me. Its appearance is a poor and inaccurate reflection that does not render justice to my entire personage and is certainly not a true reflection of my worth or value.

I have read that doubt is the shadow side of faith. This is true in my writing and artistic career. If I did not believe that I am a writer and a musician (and a good one at that) I honestly do not think I would continue to encounter doubt. Doubt would be unnecessary as a distraction to my life’s work. As it is, I have now had this inner doubt cycle dialog over and over so many times - in spite of my gifts being confirmed and affirmed so loudly and for so long - that it is simply a waste of my energy and time to give continued audience to its rumblings. 

Doubts are here - but don’t bother me now - because I #amwriting!

How do you handle doubt when it rears its ugly head in your writing life?

16 comments

  • Katie

    Katie

    Keep on ignoring it! That's true, if we listened to doubt we wouldn't get anything done. John Steinbeck, in some advice on writing, suggests never stopping and reviewing or editing until your finished- just keep going. I think it's too easy to get caught up in doubt then. Better to achieve completion, and then you might be pleasantly surprised!

    Keep on ignoring it! That's true, if we listened to doubt we wouldn't get anything done. John Steinbeck, in some advice on writing, suggests never stopping and reviewing or editing until your finished- just keep going. I think it's too easy to get caught up in doubt then. Better to achieve completion, and then you might be pleasantly surprised!

  • Marianne

    Marianne

    Thanks for chiming in Katie. Right after I finished reading your comment, an article came to me from TAXI titled "3 Bad Habits That Crush Your Creativity and Songwriting" and #1 was (that musicians) "They don't finish songs because they fear criticism." I think that's true of many creative endeavors and we can be our own worst critic stemming from our doubts!

    Thanks for chiming in Katie. Right after I finished reading your comment, an article came to me from TAXI titled "3 Bad Habits That Crush Your Creativity and Songwriting" and #1 was (that musicians) "They don't finish songs because they fear criticism."
    I think that's true of many creative endeavors and we can be our own worst critic stemming from our doubts!

  • Steph

    Steph

    I love your honest and authentic voice! I have found the simple act of labeling and acknowledging the doubt helps me recognize that I need to resist it... And somehow the satisfaction of completion is sweeter after the "fight" :)

    I love your honest and authentic voice! I have found the simple act of labeling and acknowledging the doubt helps me recognize that I need to resist it... And somehow the satisfaction of completion is sweeter after the "fight" smile

  • Zach

    Zach

    It's funny, on one hand I know that self doubt is almost arbitrary, or rather I have no real evidence to confirm it. Yet is can be incredibly strong, dominating the conversation in my head...I wonder who put it there.

    It's funny, on one hand I know that self doubt is almost arbitrary, or rather I have no real evidence to confirm it. Yet is can be incredibly strong, dominating the conversation in my head...I wonder who put it there.

  • Marianne

    Marianne

    Good question Zach. And yes Steph I too feel like the satisfaction or completion of a project is often sweeter and more rewarding when I have had to persevere through doubt or other obstacles. Thank you both for sharing!

    Good question Zach. And yes Steph I too feel like the satisfaction or completion of a project is often sweeter and more rewarding when I have had to persevere through doubt or other obstacles. Thank you both for sharing!

  • Cindy Kesler

    Cindy Kesler

    I would always wrestle with doubt when I wrote poems, never thought I would get anywhere with them, but I managed to get one published and get an editors award. I had doubts organizing our cancer fundraisers but I pulled through and got plenty accomplished. sometimes doubt can make you stronger.

    I would always wrestle with doubt when I wrote poems, never thought I would get anywhere with them, but I managed to get one published and get an editors award. I had doubts organizing our cancer fundraisers but I pulled through and got plenty accomplished. sometimes doubt can make you stronger.

  • Marianne

    Marianne

    Yes, Cindy I think it does! And it seems to pop up in almost any creative endeavor! Keep persevering!

    Yes, Cindy I think it does! And it seems to pop up in almost any creative endeavor! Keep persevering!

  • L.O.Fencer (Lora)

    L.O.Fencer (Lora)

    You know, I like to feel a tiny little doubt - however, only when it's truly tiny little. Why? Because overcoming it makes me feel much stronger and sometimes even I am astonished that I was able to achieve success. I really like your post! Especially that part about "my shadow is not me".

    You know, I like to feel a tiny little doubt - however, only when it's truly tiny little. Why? Because overcoming it makes me feel much stronger and sometimes even I am astonished that I was able to achieve success.

    I really like your post! Especially that part about "my shadow is not me".

  • Marianne

    Marianne

    Thanks Lora!! What a great point you make! Thanks for taking the time to read & comment!

    Thanks Lora!! What a great point you make! Thanks for taking the time to read & comment!

  • Barbara

    Barbara

    Hi Marianne: Thank you for visiting my blog www.challengedhope.com and leaving a comment about my entry on writers doubt. I enjoyed reading yours and loved your description of doubt returning like a sinus headache or chronic allergy. It is true and can wreak havoc on writing!

    Hi Marianne: Thank you for visiting my blog www.challengedhope.com and leaving a comment about my entry on writers doubt. I enjoyed reading yours and loved your description of doubt returning like a sinus headache or chronic allergy. It is true and can wreak havoc on writing!

  • Ashley Almade

    Ashley Almade

    I love the bit about doubt being the shadow side of faith. I'm going to tell myself that next time I'm feeling anxious about my writing (which luckily isn't too terribly often anymore…)!

    I love the bit about doubt being the shadow side of faith. I'm going to tell myself that next time I'm feeling anxious about my writing (which luckily isn't too terribly often anymore…)!

  • Marianne

    Marianne

    Thanks for reading Barbara ... funny that analogy has extra meaning for me today as I suffer from an allergy headache! And Ashley I am glad that line about the shadow side of faith was meaningful to you. I had read that in a book and was unable to completely track it down as a quote, but it struck me at the time and has not left my mind. Thanks for reading!!

    Thanks for reading Barbara ... funny that analogy has extra meaning for me today as I suffer from an allergy headache! And Ashley I am glad that line about the shadow side of faith was meaningful to you. I had read that in a book and was unable to completely track it down as a quote, but it struck me at the time and has not left my mind. Thanks for reading!!

  • Janelle Keith

    Janelle Keith

    I love your authenticity. Doubt is like a cancer, it plagues us, but it doesn't have to control us. Once we own our identities as writers, doubt can propel us. We see the source of it as our own insecurities rising to the top of our courage. With the shield of faith we battle it daily, but because of who we are in Christ, we are compelled to run from it. You are not alone.

    I love your authenticity. Doubt is like a cancer, it plagues us, but it doesn't have to control us. Once we own our identities as writers, doubt can propel us. We see the source of it as our own insecurities rising to the top of our courage. With the shield of faith we battle it daily, but because of who we are in Christ, we are compelled to run from it. You are not alone.

  • Marianne

    Marianne

    Janelle, thanks so much for reading and for the encouraging words!

    Janelle, thanks so much for reading and for the encouraging words!

  • bob

    bob

    Nice blog Marianne.... been a long time since our paths have crossed ... but I always try to follow yours.. and a wonderful path it has been so far.. as for Doubt, an interesting question... I think I try (and I say try) to treat doubt in one way... First, I try to meditate on it a bit to see if God is possibly directing me in a different path then the one I am going on, maybe I took a wrong turn, and if it's not that..if I see I am going exactly down the path I am suppose to, good or bad, then I have to see it as trying to block my path to where God was sending me to begin with...... It becomes difficult because sometimes we get an idea, or direction and we start to move on it.. but it changes .. that's when doubt comes in.. because as humans I think we think once we see the plan it is not suppose to change... lol but I think God likes to do that sometimes just to see if we are paying attention...

    Nice blog Marianne.... been a long time since our paths have crossed ... but I always try to follow yours.. and a wonderful path it has been so far.. as for Doubt, an interesting question... I think I try (and I say try) to treat doubt in one way... First, I try to meditate on it a bit to see if God is possibly directing me in a different path then the one I am going on, maybe I took a wrong turn, and if it's not that..if I see I am going exactly down the path I am suppose to, good or bad, then I have to see it as trying to block my path to where God was sending me to begin with...... It becomes difficult because sometimes we get an idea, or direction and we start to move on it.. but it changes .. that's when doubt comes in.. because as humans I think we think once we see the plan it is not suppose to change... lol but I think God likes to do that sometimes just to see if we are paying attention...

  • Marianne

    Marianne

    A good thought and reminder Bob ... good to hear from you!!

    A good thought and reminder Bob ... good to hear from you!!

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