Diving Past Doubt


Doubt can be a powerful distraction. 

Doubt can keep us from navigating our way through unknown waters. We’re afraid we’ll fail, or won’t like it, or will get it wrong, or will be mocked, or taken down, or we’ll change so much our friends won’t recognize us, or we won’t finish, or we’ll be alone.

Some of these things might very well happen. But we don’t know that they will.

Doubt is stringing out stories. Parts of us are listening. 

Hello there, Doubt. We see you. We feel you. We hear you. Is there anything we can do that will make you feel more comfortable? Yes? Great. We’ll give you a little bit of that: some calculations on a napkin, a little research, a few forays closer, some practice, an initial conversation.

Hello there, Doubt. Feeling more comfortable? Not really? Ah. Well. Let’s just dive in. Let’s just start to swim. Let’s just keep swimming anyway.

The shore is inside us. Let’s head out on the water. 

What have you been doubting lately? I've been doubting my ability to write a literary novel. I start to write and immediately everything that is wrong with it comes forward. What do I do? Re-center and just let words come. I'm diving in, and the story is unfolding. Will it be good? I don't know. I can't know. All I can do is swim. How about you?


11 Responses to “Diving Past Doubt”

  1. Lyssa

    Reading this has brought me delight and joy, and I am laughing as I type this. I’ve had the same writer’s doubt just yesterday, and what’s brought me out is laughter, and the reminder that this is such a human thing, part of the process. (Ok, and Chuck Wendig’s blog post: http://terribleminds.com/ramble/2013/08/13/25-steps-to-being-a-traditionally-published-author-lazy-bastard-edition/ There’s also one on editing is just as hilarious. And so true.)

    That laughter is my ease, my reminder of joy even when the work is driving me nuts and the unknown seems vast and cold, and maybe the light at the end of the tunnel is just the reflection cast by the eyes of the zombie horde in the light of my flashlight. Or just racoons.

    Sharing those doubts with humor reminds me of my connection to this process and to everyone within it. So I laugh a bit, at myself, at the struggle, and allow doubt to join the party–but we’re gonna party anyway. (And if you trust me, Doubt, maybe I’ll kiss you in the corner when the lights are low…)

    Of course we may be eaten alive–but I promise you, we’ll get back up again. 😉

    So, onward ho! Butt back in the chair. Barf out more words. Make more art. Make awful, crappy art. This is how we learn and make the magic that changes the world.

    I wish you joy and ease in the page mines,


  2. Lyssa

    Oh, and I have the fantastic support of friends and mentors, one who told me to acknowledge when it is scary and sucks and then DO IT ANYWAY. So thank you for that! It made all the difference and got me started.

  3. Sandy

    I have had doubts about my ability to successfully build this priesthood. I always go back to my vows to do this work. I made agreements to do the work, I didn’t make promises of what the outcome of the work would look like, because that’s something I can’t know yet. So, I just keep putting one foot in front of the other, doing my work as best I can.
    Doubt for me is more like part of the landscape. It happens, I walk through those hills, and then I come to a part of the road without hills. There will be more hills, and that’s ok. It’s part of the natural course of things. What matters, for me, is not sitting down and saying, “fuck this road and these hills!” That and also noticing when the doubt comes. Do I feel doubt because I’m not taking care of myself? Or because I’m paying too much attention to someone else’s opinion? Those are things I can look at and do something about. I can rest, I can understand why that opinion matters – if it really does and then I can more easily find the way through the hills.

    • Thorn

      “Do I feel doubt because I’m not taking care of myself? Or because I’m paying too much attention to someone else’s opinion?”

      Sandy, I really appreciate that question.

  4. Syrbal/Labrys

    Doubt seems my constant traveling companion, especially of late. On the one hand, it makes me careful and calculating about risk vs. reward. It makes me moderate about expectations. But sometimes, yes, it turns up the ‘shriek’ component and makes me sure of nothing but failure. I have to then remind myself that neither failure nor success is guaranteed every time, so I place my bets and play on in life.

  5. Moira


    my doubt was if I am able to open another base for my practice.

    Research helped – other therapists from this place told me, that my work is much needed there…

    My family, spiritual sisters and friends helped – we spent the summer there together and they told me ‘do it’…

    The landowner helped a lot – he gives me this wonderful rooms to my conditions…

    My desire since childhood – to work and live at the sea in a sunny area – helps a lot…

    The Baltic sea goddess that I worship there for many years helps a lot…

    So – besides doubt and fear – I will jump into the waves…

    Concerning your doubt I feel this novel will become as excellent as your other books – or you will work hard on it until it becomes that excellent 😉

    Blessings of inspiration, blessings of joy in the writing-process, good mentors and much support from your loved ones…

    * Moira


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