Dealing With Uncertainty is Hard

But you must. All writers and creatives do.

I’m on jury duty.

I’m to report at 8 AM for two days running. And from there I have no idea what will happen.

Will I get excused early, as I have in the past? Will I actually get to sit on a trial?

I’ve got appointments lined up the rest of the week. I’ve got a class to take and a class to teach. Places to go, people to see. Will I be available for them? I don’t know.


I hate it. I want control. I want to know what is going to happen next, how it is going to happen, and exactly when.

But here’s the deal. We think we control our lives. We think we know what’s going to happen. But things can change in a nanosecond. I’ve had that experience and I’m sure you have, too.

Maybe this is why some of us go into fiction writing — because we create world in which we control what happens. But even with that, we creatives experience uncertainty.

Reams of it.

As in, will this novel I’m starting pan out? Will I be able to make it work to the very end? Will I sustain interest in the plot and characters? (I’ve gotten bored with stories I’m writing and wandered away. You, too?)

If you’re writing a memoir, you may wonder similar things. Will I be able to access my memories? Will I want to? Will I let them overwhelm me? Can I shape them into a story that will have meaning for readers?

We don’t know, do we? But we set out on the writing path, full of optimism and faith. Maybe even pure blind faith.

And we step onto the path of uncertainty. And place one foot in front of the other. One day at a time. Until we get to the end of the draft. Until we finish the story.

Because that is what a writer does.

Charlotte Rains Dixon is the author of the novel Emma Jean’s Bad Behavior (Vagabondage Press, February 2013), and articles published in magazines such as Vogue Knitting, The Oregonian and Pology, to name only a few, and her short fiction has been published in Somerset Studios, The Trunk and the Santa Fe Writer’s Project. She earned her MFA in creative writing at Spalding University in 2003, and has been teaching and coaching writers ever since, both privately and as an adjunct professor at Middle Tennessee State University’s Write program. She’s been blogging about writing, creativity, and motivation at since 2007. She is repped by Erin Niumata at FolioLiterary. Visit her website at and her travel site at

Novelist, writing teacher, coach. Workshops in France, Portland, and virtually. Sign up for weekly love letters and get a free Ebook:

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