I belong to a group on Facebook that is for chefs, and someone on there posted that she was feeling insecure about her skills and although she’d been a chef for a few years, she wonders if she has improved at all and whether or not she should continue with this career. And it struck me…
That sounds like half the writers I know!
That feeling of self-doubt about one’s skills seems to be universal, but I think it tends to be more prevalent in creative fields.
Of course, self-doubt occurs in people doing non-creative work, too, but I think there’s a more distinct line between good skills and bad skills in a non-creative area. If you’re a sales person and your sales percentage doesn’t increase after five years on the job, then something’s clearly wrong. (Some would say that being a salesperson requires creativity, too, but let’s not delve too deep into that.)
If you’re a writer, increased sales doesn’t necessarily mean better skills—it could just mean that you’ve become more popular. Proof that you’ve improved as a writer is much more difficult to come by.
The advice that many people gave this chef is pretty much the same that should be given to a writer when doubting herself: Don’t give up on what you love. Keep at it and just look for ways to grow and improve. If it’s what you love, then you’re meant to be doing it.
If it doesn’t make you happy, if you don’t get a sense of pleasure and satisfaction out of writing, then something’s wrong. Perhaps you’re doing it for the wrong reasons. And if you are, you’ll never be the writer you want to be.
If at the end of the day, after you’ve done your writing (whatever form that might take) for the day, you feel good, you feel like you did something good (even if the writing itself isn’t good), then you’re on track. Just keep seeking out knowledge, take every opportunity you can to learn, and keep an open mind. And remember: There’s always room for improvement.