The Beauty of Uncertainty in Writing

The Mirror of Uncertainty


It is something that many people feel, especially if they have the need to know that they are in control of their lives.

They say human beings are creatures of habit, and the more certain we are about what’s going to happen, the more we know about our future, the more peace of mind we have.

While that may be true in some cases, there is also something to be said about uncertainty.

As I was drinking my first cup of coffee and just letting the cold morning air wake me up – not as gently as I wanted – thoughts about uncertainty flooded my mind. In a good way.

It dawned on me that when it comes to writing, uncertainty can be a good thing for me.

I have been writing for a living for almost a decade now, and I cannot deny that at the beginning of a new project, I encounter a LOT of uncertainty. When I deal with a new client, I run through a gamut of emotions, ranging from excitement to anxiousness to uncertainty.

Compare this to writing for the same client, about the same topic for months, even years.

The difference?

When I face something new, uncertainty is the predominant feeling. With something that I know like the back of my hand,1 a sense of comfort tends to envelope me. Whether it is a false sense of comfort or not, it can have adverse effects.

The thinking that I’ve been doing something forever can give a sense of complacency. That makes me prone to making mistakes. Even worse, perhaps, is that that sense of complacency tends to lead to lack of creativity.

“I know exactly what to do. I do not need to think out of the box.”
“I can do this in my sleep. I do not need to exert much effort.”

Thoughts such as those may or may not be consciously expressed, but they can get a writer stuck in a rut. As comfortable that rut may be, it still is a rut!

Don’t get me wrong. That rut can help a writer churn out articles as fast as possible. It pays the bills. But at the end of the day, I believe that we must continue to press ourselves to take our work to a higher level.

Sure, it may not be possible to produce a magnificent piece hour after hour, day after day. However, if we do not take the time to continuously seek ways to improve our writing in whatever way or whichever aspect, then burn out will not be far behind.

This is the beauty of uncertainty.

It pushes me to examine, and re-examine, what I do. It helps me discover different ways to write, different ways to approach subjects and pieces.

Uncertainty pushes me to proofread more – and not just the usual grammar and punctuation nitpicking. The uncertainty of what the client may want or expect helps me to be more thorough and look at my work from a different angle.

Yes, uncertainty can be paralyzing if not dealt with properly, but if welcomed with open arms and an open mind, it can create new limits!

How do you perceive uncertainty in your writing?

Photo credit: Cea.

  1. Incidentally, I recently learned that the back of your hand is scientifically called dorsum manum. So much for knowing it. []

3 Replies to “The Beauty of Uncertainty in Writing”

  1. When I write stories, uncertainty is a quirky and exciting thing. It lets me think up of different ways to tell the story, different ways to end it, or give it twists. I guess that’s why it takes a really long time for me to finish writing one because, oh, so many possibilities!

    PS: footnotes. Brilliant.

    1. Thanks for dropping by, Jonette! I haven’t been blogging here as much as I should, but am trying to do better. Thank you for the encouragement. I hope I can bring more to the table in the coming months.

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