August 2003 Keep Doubt From Stealing Your Dream


A friend sent me the following quote from Shakespeare: “Doubt is a thief that often makes us fear to tread where we might have won.”

Ah, the words of the immortal bard. Have you seen “Shakespeare in Love?” In that movie, Shakespeare goes through many doubts and has to conquer a number of fears (not to mention a few disgruntled Brits) to get his first play written and on the stage. He loves his writing, but isn’t sure he is doing the right thing, even after the standing ovation for “Romeo and Juliet.”

That is, until his lady love steps forward and tells him not to give up. Now, that part may be pure fiction, written into the story to make it sell, but it could also be based partly on reality. Undoubtedly, there were people who encouraged Shakespeare, others who scoffed at his dream, and a few who cheered wanly in his corner, not sure if he’d ever make it.

Imagine where we would be in literature today if he had let Doubt conquer him. Imagine the plays, the poetry, the sheer magic of entertainment we would have missed, had Shakespeare given in to Doubt and let it take away his glory before he could achieve it. I love Shakespeare, and have always loved his amazing gift for iambic pentameter that is both funny and tragic. I wasn’t a big fan in Freshman English, when the plays were required reading, but by college, I had recognized his talent and appreciated the gift he gave the literary world.

Don’t doubt that you can’t be the next Shakespeare. Ah, don’t scoff now. Shakespeare didn’t know he’d be THE Shakespeare. He was just some poor playwright penning his stories by hand (and if you feel like complaining about revising on a computer, imagine doing all your work – in metered rhyme no less—by hand, with a quill and ink on tiny pieces of paper that couldn’t be wasted!). He had no idea that he would influence literary works for generations. He just wanted to write. So he beat back the Doubt Demons and did it.

Today, pull a Shakespeare. Ignore the doubt and write your brains out. If you choose to do it with a quill and ink, hey, be my guest. No matter how you do it – just do it.


And this one, from Alyice, gets a bookmark! Send me your snail, Alyice!

“I am pretty good at organizing and paperwork, even at writing, but I have trouble committing to searching for freelance jobs. It discourages me to no end, so I usually end up getting very little done when it comes to actual paid writing gigs. Can you help?”

First off, realize that NO ONE sells EVERY job. No one. I have a 40% success rate with my queries and approaches, no matter how hard I work at trying to get everything perfect. Right time, right place, right product – and the moon in perfect alignment with the planets. Now, that said, you have to commit a certain amount of time to working at finding work, just as you would when you had a project to complete.

Set aside a specific day or time to work on finding work. Let’s say you pinpoint Thursday mornings and Friday afternoons for work-hunting. On Monday through Wednesday, write up a list of things you want to query or companies you want to call (for corporate work). This gives you an Action Plan. This helps you from wandering aimlessly through your office, accomplishing nothing. As you check off each item, give yourself a pat and a Hershey bar J Set your goals a teeny bit higher for next week, then a bit higher for the next.

Most of all, if 60% or 80% or even 99% of your efforts don’t pan out, DON’T GIVE UP. Reassess, reevaluate and reorganize, but keep going. Commit to your work-hunting days and keep plugging away (and realize Shakespeare had to do it all by hand J


Candice, whom I met when I was in New Orleans at the RWA convention! Hats off to her, first of all, for being committed enough to her goal of book publishing that she soaked up tons of info at RWA. “I’m taking you up on the opportunity to cheer myself on. This week I sent a query and synopsis off to Silhouette, for “In the Heat of the Sun”, and sent 4 short stories out to magazines and e-zines. I live in hope.”

We all do, Candice J

And to writer and pal, Jennifer Doloski, “Give me a cheer for my first “glossy” clip! I got my Fall/Winter 2001 issue of Hobby Farms in the mail last Friday, and there I am on page 56 with a *gasp* five page article (they used a lot of large photographs) on 4-H/FFA.”

WooHoo! Way to go, Jennifer!!!

Send me your achievements and your questions! Until next time, may all your words be good ones,


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