On Wednesday at the EODLS Staff Development Day conference the question was brought up about 'writer's block'. How did each of us three authors deal with it when it comes? For me personally I never suffer from the problem but I do have days when there are too many distractions and mundane affairs that get in the way of my writing, denying me a chance to do anything like I want. But the one thing I DO have is what I call 'Writer's Doubt.'
What it is is my strong doubt and lack of belief in my own works and ideas. It is partway hyper-criticism and partly an inferiority matter, not believing in my own work, feeling it is not worthy. It is the problem that I could be at 95% near completion on my project and suddenly have this massive doubt about it, thinking that no one else will see what I do in the project and that maybe I am just fooling myself about it.
Deriving from a background as an artist, I would often scrap an entire drawing before it was done because certain elements of it I do not agree with or like how I composed it. This happened many times in my art years and it stems from a perfectionists' standpoint. In writing it is essentially the same idea but in literary form and can kill an idea that might have lots of potential. For every book and project of mine there has been many more that were thrown away because I had doubt and never even saw the outline stage of my efforts.
Nowadays I am still suffering from the Writer's Doubt every step of the way, and it kills my enthusiasm or drive to further a project. I think that this is worse than Writer's Block in the end, mainly because it can prevent a project from ever being finished, whereas with Writer's Block it will eventually pass and the project can go on conceivably The ultimate answer to the question of, 'Is the project good enough?' is in the reaction by others upon reading it. If they like it and find it good and interesting, that is why it must go on. Sometimes we who write and create art will become too selfish and forget that what we are making ends up in the hands in others who are the fans eventually. Initially we do these things for ourselves but it is for those who like it when it is said and done, the fans or such literature (whatever the genre).
I have heard that if you do not believe in your work, it will never see the light of day or completion and it is not 'meant to be'. I have a novel project that has sat for 14 years and was never finalized because I was too afraid of it being poorly received by others. It is a dear project with a lot of history and sentimental importance to me, but I am changing my way of thinking on this now and finishing it. I will take a risk on it after it is done and see what happens in peoples' reactions and comments. THAT is the scary part of it. The negativity is what I am afraid of, more on this project than on any other of mine.
So if you have a doubt on your work that is so bad that is denies you seeing its completion, go ahead and ignore the biting doubt and finish it all. No matter what at least you have the story done regardless if it ever gets handed in.
The next step is to skip the Writer's Doubt when submitting it to a publisher or an agent...