Are your doubts a source of inspiration, or are they proof you should move on?
I experience self-doubt all the time. Was my piece at its absolute best before I clicked the "Submit" button? Should I even try to get into a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) program? And, perhaps the most cruel question, do I belong to a literary community?
While attending a session called "The MFA Relationship: It's Complicated" at the Baltimore Writers' Conference this past weekend, I had the opportunity to hear from Cecilia Capuzzi Simon, Geoffrey Becker, D. Watkins, and Marion Winik. Watkins, a University of Baltimore graduate, asserted that there is no place for self-doubt in programs like the MFA. A session participant politely challenged Watkins by saying that he believed that self-doubt could serve as a source of inspiration.
I think that both individuals make valid points. If you are not secure in your dream to become a writer and artist, it can be difficult to make progress. Sometimes you need to just hit "Submit" and pursue publication, or network with Kathy Flann by asking her to sign your copy of "Get a Grip" because you are an artist, too, damn it!
Too much doubt can cloud your artistic vision. A little doubt, however, can help you reconsider your piece one more time and find that last, annoying typo. A bit of doubt can make you work harder because you feel the need to prove yourself to you.
In response to the title of this post, self-doubt does not mean get the hell out. Some self-doubt is helpful; the key is to monitor your comfort level. So long as you can still get yourself to click "Submit" and get your work out there, carry on!
The image above is "Flight" by Gillian Collins.