There are times when doubting can be deadly (see Michael A. Black's post from yesterday for some great examples of that!).
Doubt is the natural part of being human, and it's certainly a common element among writers. I've been writing all kinds of stuff (recruiting brochures, technical documents, fiction, web content, blog posts, white papers, you-name-it) for decades now. I would hazard that in probably 95+% of all my writing projects, there will be a moment of doubt--sometimes it's just a brief spasm of anxiety, sometimes it's days and weeks of full-out panic. Over time, I have learned some valuable things from these episodes.
- Doubt precedes insight.
- Doubt comes... and eventually it goes.
- Doubt is normal.
All of this helps me get through those nasty moments. When the panic rises, I try to mentally step back and think, "Ah well. Here we go again." I know to keep breathing, keep moving through whatever has caused me to shriek to a stop, to blunder in confusion, to feel like I haven't the faintest idea of what I'm trying to say or how to say it.
It all just requires "holding on," until the doubt passes, the darkness eases into light. When that happens--and it happens every time--I look around anew, know where I am, and see where I am going.
Here's what some folks have to say about doubt, just so you know we have plenty of company out there, and that doubt isn't necessarily a "bad" thing:
“I have always felt that doubt was the beginning of wisdom...” ~ Clarence Darrow
“The greater the artist, the greater the doubt. Perfect confidence is granted to the less talented as a consolation prize." ~ Robert Hughes
“Doubt is uncomfortable, certainty is ridiculous.” ~Voltaire
“Dubito ergo cogito; cogito ergo sum. (I doubt, therefore I think; I think therefore I am.)” ~Rene Descartes
“Isn't it the moment of most profound doubt that gives birth to new certainties? Perhaps hopelessness is the very soil that nourishes human hope; perhaps one could never find sense in life without first experiencing its absurdity...” ~Vaclav Havel (playwright)