Chuck Wendig is known for his best-selling books as well as his comedic, pragmatic advice for aspiring writers. When a fan emailed him recently to confess bewilderment and a lack of confidence in her ability to make it as a writer, Mr. Wendig had this to say:
None of us know what the fuck we’re doing.
I know we don’t because the deeper we go down this career, the less we seem to know. Oh, we have ideas. We’ll literally explode your ears with our self-important author talk, but at the end of the day, all the shit we say can probably be disproven by talking to five other writers, and mostly that look in the black of our eyes is one of utter bewilderment. Our greatest and most honest answer to you regarding all the questions you want to ask us would be a vigorous, exasperated shrug.
That’s not to say we’re entirely clueless, mind you. It’s like this — you’re at the bottom of the mountain looking up. We’re on the side of the mountain or even at its peak looking down. You have the climb ahead of you. We have the climb — or some of it, at least — behind us. We have a view of the valley. You have a view of only the mountain. We know a little bit about climbing. We know some of the gear. We have our limited perspective on getting up to where we are, at present. We can only tell you what we know and what we did — and that’s not entirely helpful.
See, up at the peak, we’ve just achieved a new level of cluelessness.
“What’s that body of water over there?”
“Fuck if I know.”
“How’d we survive crossing that SNOWY CREVASSE where the ICE WEASELS were nesting?”
“Luck, I guess.”
“How do we get back down?”
“I think we die up here.”
There exists no well-marked, well-lit path up the mountain. You will find no handy map. No crafty app for your smartphone. The terrain shifts after everyone walks upon it. New chasms. Different caves. The ice weasels become hell-bears. The sacred texts we find in the grottos along our journey are sacred to us but heresy to someone else.
The whole post is worth reading. And the message serves as a reminder that to a certain extent, all confidence is feigned. Don’t waste your time worrying about not knowing what to do or how to do it. If you want to be a writer, write. The rest will be a series of turns on an ever-shifting path up the mountain.