Doubt seems to me to be one of the most crippling states of mind a writer can fall into. By doubt, I mean a feeling that whatever one's doing is either pointless or will otherwise fail.
As writers, we are told early on that in a social networking world, we can't express doubt even if we're feeling it because it looks unprofessional and gives readers a reason to believe that the writer must not be selling any books or has lost his/her touch. So, when we feel doubt, we have to keep it to ourselves.
Doubt seems to lead to more doubt. I don't know if doubting becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, or whether there's something psychic going on that sends out "weakness vibes" telling things that weren't going wrong to suddenly go wrong. Or, perhaps our view of things changes when we're feeling doubt and things suddenly look worse than they are.
How to Fix It
As a man, I'm expected to ask "how does one fix it?" Frankly, I've been writing long enough to know that "fixing it" isn't a train of thought that leads down the road to non-doubt. In many ways, I think we have to trick doubt or trick ourselves.
While we're doubting, we can "prove" our doubt is rational by listing things that aren't going well: The last book sold poorly, an article or short story has been rejected, publishers won't look at unsolicited manuscripts and neither will agents so why bother, or one just doesn't seem to have the "gift of gab" that draws friends and relationships online or at talks and book signings.
Such lists can be endless. And, truth be told, if we're going to persist in making them, perhaps each item we include should be examined logically. Perhaps the last book didn't sell because we skimped on promotion, put it into the wrong genre, or picked a book cover that didn't work. Maybe our articles are being rejected because we're sending them in blind rather than querying the editor to see what s/he wants. There are legitimate reasons why things don't always work.
If we're already doing everything we know to do--and seriously believe we're in the right business--then I think we have to distract ourselves from our doubt long enough to feel like trying again. Sure, there will always be stories about people who self-published their books and sold them out of their cars until some friend of a big New York agent happened to see a copy and sent it to the important people s/he knew and suddenly HarperCollins bought the book for $1,000,000.
Seeing the writing world as hopeless every time we read stories like that certainly creates doubt because the implication is that no matter how hard you work, you won't succeed without some magical event. But, even if that's true (and I don't think so) we write because of some reason--we like asking what if, we like telling stories, we like juggling the stuff of our imagination.
Whatever that reason is, getting back to it is the best way to counteract doubt. Personally, I've tricked myself out of feelings of doubt by distracting myself with a great novel, a compelling movie, or in catching up with the zines and magazines that I've let pile up. Some people are able to get rid of doubt by focusing on physical activity such as washing the car, mowing the yard, or going to a hike.
When the distraction is strong enough, it's almost (for me) a magical moment. It pulls me far enough away from doubt that rather than feeling hopeless, I'm thinking of story ideas again or suddenly coming up with some new posts for my blogs. At some point in the process, doubt vanishes.
What about you? We know that some famous singers get stage fright; that baseball pitchers employ all kinds of rituals to keep from clutching up and worrying about the pitches they're about to throw; that one thing or another thing gets a writer into the groove rather than worrying about where the groove is.
The Mind Killer
In the novel Dune, the Bene Gesserit had a litany against fear: "I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain."
Perhaps we need no go that far to dispel doubt, though it can be a mind killer for a writer. If logic can't cast it out, than perhaps tricks will work or a stiff drink. I cannot write when I doubt and so I do everything I can to keep from feeling it or to get rid of it when it catches me by surprise.