“The greater the artist, the greater the doubt. Perfect confidence is granted to the less talented as a consolation prize.”
Robert Hughes, author and art critic
“Don’t permit fear of failure to prevent effort.”
John Wooden, college basketball coach
I love these two quotes, which I’m sharing here compliments of my friend and mentor Rob Gilbert (check out his Success Hotline, 973.743.4690). I cherish these words of wisdom because they remind me that uncertainty comes with the territory we traverse as writers.
This idea was really brought home to me when I read that Amy Tan, the author of the beloved novel The Joy Luck Club, had experienced huge amounts of anxiety while penning her newest novel, The Valley of Amazement. The novel took her more than six years to finish and in her blog she catalogued both her fears about its quality and all the experiences she had while “not wrestling with words at my desk.”
While one book editor was surprised to learn that a writer as accomplished as Amy Tan could feel so anxious about her work, it’s probably precisely because she is so masterful a writer that such feelings arise. Just like the rest of us, she can be her toughest critic. And yet, despite her misgivings, Amy continued writing her story through to the end. Surely, there’s hope and inspiration for all of us in this kind of persistence in the face of doubt.
So, next time we’re feeling low or anxious about whether our work is good enough, let’s remember Amy and take heart. And write on.