Writers Dealing with – Doubt

Doubt is a horrible feeling. If you allow it, those thoughts can burrow deep and become part of your daily life.

I’ll be honest, I’ve doubted myself through every step of the publishing journey. Every time I see a one or two star rating or review pop up on GoodReads I question whether my books will ever win an award or make a bestseller list. Every time I get stuck on a story I doubt I will make it to the end.

From speaking to other writers it seems feelings of doubt are common. Getting published doesn’t make these feelings go away. Putting your work out there for the general public to judge is scary and overwhelming.

The bad news is that feelings of doubt are natural and pretty much everyone experiences them at some point. The good news is that you can deal with doubt, you can do things to increase your belief in yourself and create an environment where you feel less creatively blocked by doubt.

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Whether you’re an aspiring/pre-published writer doubting your ability to get the elusive ‘yes’ from an editor or agent, or if you’re like me and are dealing with doubt post publication here are few things that I do to stop the doubt messing with my creativity and my confidence:

Do:

Talk it out – Everyone has these feelings, so talking it out with someone from your support network can provide some perspective to the ‘doubt demons’. Got a one star review and think that means you’ll never sell a book again? Not so. Someone who can look at the situation with a little more distance can help you see through your emotions and find balance with your thinking.

Remind yourself of what you’ve been able to achieve so far – especially for those of us who are a little Type-A (ahem, me) we often forget to reflect and look at the good things we’ve done before jumping with two feet into the next task. Have you written a whole book? Had a request from an editor? These are all fantastic things that you possibly doubted you could do at some point.

Understand that self belief starts with you – no one else can make you believe in yourself and your abilities, more importantly you have to want to change this feeling. It’s tough, but simply switching up your language with more ‘cans’ than ‘can’ts’ is a good place to start.

Remember a few key things:

– There’s room for everyone at the top – one person’s success does not mean there is less opportunity for you

– Writing is subjective – some people will love what you do, others will not. You can’t control how people feel about your writing

– It’s not easy for anyone, so don’t feel bad that some days you find it  hard.

Don’t:

Compare yourself to others – I know humans are designed to analyse information by using comparison but comparing your number of requests or the time it took you to get published or your sales numbers to others is not the way to feel confident in yourself. Look at your achievements and cheer others on, but don’t compare.

Use doubt to define your choices – trying to figure out the ‘easiest’ route to getting published because you doubt your abilities will only make you wish you’d gone all out later on. If you’re researching publishers and want to try for the big guns, do it. Don’t cheat yourself because you’re scared of getting a ‘no’.

Give up – doubt is a natural feeling and you can’t always prevent it, but it doesn’t have to run your life. You can’t always choose how you feel, but you can choose how you react.

I hope this post will help some of you who are struggling with doubt at the moment. It’s something I battle all the time and the above comes from years of experience at working to change my outlook on my self and my abilities. If you have any tips to add please leave them in the comments below – you might just help someone out!

4 Responses to “Writers Dealing with – Doubt”

  1. Lauren James says:

    Great post, Stef. When those doubts start creeping in, it’s easy to forget that everyone deals with them to a certain degree.

    Having that support network is crucial, as is the ability to step back and look at the situation with a clear head. Our writing journey is an emotional one. We put so much of ourselves into our work, and therefore, we take it hard when everyone doesn’t love it as much as we’d like.

    I doubt I’ll ever be able to brush off the negativity without a second thought, but I get better and better at putting it aside and moving forward. For me, that’s the key to be successful.

    Thanks for sharing.

    • Stefanie says:

      You’re so right about the writing journey being an emotional one – it’s tough to put yourself out there. But it’s also extremely rewarding. Plus the romance writing community is full of wonderful people, so support is never far away :)

  2. A.K. Leigh says:

    Thank you. It’s nice to hear other authors feel the same way!

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