July 14, 2020

Do You Have Doubts?

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 did I do it last time? Am I really called to do this?

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, and both are in my heart.

A problem arises

The problem arises 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 work in progress. Doubts raise their ugly heads. After all, a real writer doesn’t get 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 years I’ve been writing.

During one particularly trying manuscript, we held auditions for a new show I was to direct. I was 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 one. I prayed and decided I’d leave it at His feet.

I turned my attention to the theatre and all the shows for that year. I was producing one, directing one, and set-dresser on another, all while managing the non-profit business side. 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. That’s part of it. It’s 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. Read a book. Cook a new recipe. Go shopping.

In some part of your brain, you’re thinking about your work in progress.

So wait. Don’t stress God will show up. After all, you’re a writer ... called to write

 Ane Mulligan has been a voracious reader ever since her mom instilled within her a love of reading at age three, escaping into worlds otherwise unknown. But when Ane saw PETER PAN on stage, she was struck with a fever from which she never recovered—stage fever. She submerged herself in drama through high school and college. One day, her two loves collided, and a bestselling, award-winning novelist emerged. She lives in Sugar Hill, GA, with her artist husband and a rascally Rottweiler. Find Ane on her website, Amazon Author page, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and The Write Conversation. 


  1. Ane,

    Thank you for the transparency and honesty in this post. As writers we have doubts. Years ago as a new writer late at night sitting with a number of seasoned, bestselling authors I was fascinated to hear them each admit when they started a new book they wondered if they could finish it. Yes they had doubts as seasoned writers. Now years later and after working on many books I understand those doubts because I have them too but each time need to give the doubts to God and keep my fingers on the keyboard and keep writing pages. It's what we do as writers.

    author of 10 Publishing Myths, Insights Every Author Needs to Succeed

  2. Ane thank you for this wonderful post today. When writing we have those doubts creep in and sometimes it is hard to shake them. But your message rings true, God does show up. Can't wait to read your new book, In High Cotton.

  3. With every book I start, I ask, "Now how do I do this?" It's like everything I've ever known about writing just went out the window. But then, I've done this before. You can do it again. So I just start. Love your post, Ane!