“The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.”—Sylvia Plath [as posted on Mike’s Writing Workshop and Newsletter].I suffer from self-doubt. I wonder if there are any writers who don’t. There’s a discussion about this in one of the critique groups I belong to. Two points mentioned so far were the inability to write, and the perceived poor quality of previous writings as one cause for this inability.
One participant suggested free writing as a way to jump start one’s muse. I’ve done this. You set a timer for ten or fifteen minutes and write until the bell dings. What you write about isn’t important. The point is to write. Don't stop to edit. Don't think too much. Just write.
When done, I read the resulting text looking for a sentence or phrase to expand into a story. It’s rare, but once in a while I find a gem. A novelist can use this technique by having a conversation with a character about a scene in the current work in progress. Or if a setting is unclear in the author's mind, he can write a more detailed description than is useful for the novel. Something might click and get the author past the block that’s keeping her from finishing a chapter.
As for previous writing, I’ve reread a few of my older pieces and cringed. Thinking about this now I realize an editor somewhere liked them enough to publish the stories, so they must be good. What I need to remember is they were the best story I could write at the time, that I’ve learned more about writing since then, and my stories show this -- I hope.