Monday, May 27, 2019

Fighting Writer Doubts

by Ane Mulligan @AneMulligan

An engineer doesn’t doubt her calling. She’s a left-brained mathematician with a formula for every situation.

A fisherman doesn’t doubt his calling. He’s a left-brained strategist who can outsmart any fish.

A company CFO doesn’t doubt her calling. She has left-brained-focus on the bottom line.

But creatives are dogged by doubts. 

Is my work good enough? Will everyone hate it? Has the well run dry? Are all my ideas merely repeats of what I’ve already done? How didI do it last time? Am I really doing what I’m called to do?

My name is Ane Mulligan and I have another passion besides writing.

Oh, pick up your jaw. It’s not a secret to anyone who knows me. I’m managing director of a Community Theatre company. Theatre is in my blood just like stories are in my head.

The problem is when one passion’s demands are louder than the other. It doesn’t matter what that passion is. It can be family, especially when our children are young. Softball, swarm soccer, parent-teacher conferences. Your day job. They pull at a writer. 

Then, you hit a wall in your current WIP. Doubts raise their ugly heads. After all, a real writer doesn’t have writer’s block. A real writer can write through anything. Maybe you’re done. Is it time to quit? 

I’ve been plagued with all these and more in the last year. I found one WIP had gone totally off track and away from my brand, so I deleted thirty-thousand-plus words. I started over. The new beginning was great. 

Then we held auditions for a new show I’m directing, Calendar Girls. I’m very excited about it, and the busyness of planning and directing (and writing a few short bits to ease scenes transitions) stole my creativity and focus. 

Doubt crept in once more. Is writing my will for me or God’s? I couldn’t imagine quitting Community Theatre. Is it truly time to quit writing? If so, then so be it. 

Yet, I cringed at that thought. I didn’t want to quit either. I prayed and decided I’d leave it at His feet.

I turned my attention to the theatre and all the shows we’re doing. I’m producing one, directing one, and set dresser on another, all while managing the business of it all. Maybe that’s enough for one person.

Then it happened. As my husband and I chatted about his upcoming choir concert, suddenly in the midst of that conversation, the one piece I hadn’t consciously realized I’d missed exploded in my mind, sparking creativity in a great, big, wonderful visual of motivation ... for my character and for me. 

I love it when God shows up. 

Creatives will always be plagued by doubts. It’s part of it. Built into our DNA. We can’t escape it. So, what do we do? Panic and down copious pots of coffee and six pounds of chocolate?

No. Well, yes to the coffee and chocolate. But learn to embrace the doubts. Take them to God. He’s big enough to handle them. Then wait. Don’t try to force anything. Wait. 

Take a day trip. Grab your camera and go take photos somewhere peaceful. Somewhere you’re thinking about your WIP. Read a book. Cook a new recipe. Go shopping. 

And wait. God will show up.

After all, you’re a writer ... called to write.


Ane Mulligan writes Southern-fried fiction served with a tall sweet tea. She's a bestselling novelist, and playwright. Ane resides in Sugar Hill, GA, with her husband and a rascally Rottweiler who demands play dates with a whippet and a labradoodle. You can find Ane at her websiteAmazon Author pageFacebookTwitter, andPinterest.


  1. Well said Ms. Ane. Sometimes we all forget that God is working on our story, even we we are pursuing something else. And yes, it's amazing when "God shows up" and says it's time to move forward with what I want you to do. God's blessings ma'am.

    1. Thanks, J.D. I always do a head smack when I realize I forget to factor that. I'd save myself so much angst!!

  2. Yes I have been there though a lot of your theater demands and was wondering when you'd get back to writing again. I'm so glad you have now and since you wrote this you've had a wonderful experience at a recent writers conference. I'm dealing with some that now myself but trusting God that He'll show me the way in due time.

  3. When God has called us, He does show up in His timing. Great to meet you in person last week, Ane. Blessings to you in your theater endeavors. I would love to see the shows!

    1. It was good to meet you, too, Barbara. I would love for you to see our shows!

  4. Every book I have to say to myself, I've done this before, and I can do it again. If writing were easy, everyone would do it. lol But you are so right that God shows up when we need him.

  5. I love this! My oldest is getting married this year. I'm hosting the "family shower" at my house and my creativity has been poured into home renovations, landscaping, shopping, and trying to lose that last 15 pounds. Oy. Thanks for the encouragement - now to get that novella written . . .