Battling Self-Doubt

I bet most, if not every writer and author goes through self-doubt at some point during their writing life. Nagging thoughts invade my brain saying, ‘I’m not good enough.’ ‘Why don’t you just give up?’ ‘You’ll never earn money writing.’ It is so hard to get over these awful doubts and they keep creeping back to haunt me. When I get negative feedback and reviews the voices resurge with a vengeance. It doesn’t matter how much good feedback I’ve had, one bad review can make me throw my arms up in the air and hover the curser over ‘unpublish this book.’

The only thing I can do is push the doubting thoughts to the back of my mind and keep going. If I don’t give up, if I keep writing and reading and researching then I can only get better. I can’t please everyone with my writing, I make mistakes, learn from them and move on. When you love doing what you do the outcome is logical. I put a lid on the nagging thoughts and move forward. Strive to improve and learn from the past. Do the best I can.

Have you had self-doubt and how do you battle it?

Related articles you may find useful:
5 Ways for Writers to Blast Through Self Doubt
Practical Tactics for Dealing with Haters

14 thoughts on “Battling Self-Doubt

  • November 5, 2012 at 10:15 am
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    I think all writers have it. There’s always something to stress about – will I get an agent, will I get a book deal, will I get good reviews, will I sell any copies?! I guess we just have to remember we’re doing something we love.

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    • November 5, 2012 at 10:25 am
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      That’s exactly it Victoria. I wouldn’t ever not write because I love it. Thanks for the comment! 🙂

      Reply
  • November 5, 2012 at 6:36 pm
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    I have a lot of self doubt. I’m not sure I deal with exactly, as just learn to live with it. Most of my writing slumps or ditching of WIPs is down to self doubt.

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    • November 5, 2012 at 8:12 pm
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      I think it’s something we all struggle with and can be hard to overcome. Thanks for the comment Clare 🙂

      Reply
  • November 6, 2012 at 12:56 am
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    It’s hard to get past these feelings but it actually helps to know there are other writers that struggle with the same thing… Thanks for the support!

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  • November 6, 2012 at 1:19 pm
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    Self-doubt can be about more than writing, too, and I know a lot of people currently struggling with it. But self-doubt in writing? Oh, yes. Definitely. Every time I sit at the computer, or brainstorm, or, heck, read someone else’s work, it stares me in the face. Most of the time I can push that nagging voice aside. And it does help to know that other writers feel the same way.

    Great post!

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    • November 7, 2012 at 10:25 am
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      Thanks for the comment! It is nice to know that other people go through the same thing. All we can do is help each other out and support other writers. It’s nice knowing that we are not alone.

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  • November 9, 2012 at 2:46 am
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    All the time 🙂 I try to find out how the authors I admire do it (or did when it wasn’t quite so easy for them). I find reviews that berate the books I’ve recently read and loved to remind me no one will like everything, and then I read the reviews that shower them in praise. I read work I really admire even though there’s a simplicity to it and it may not even be mainstream. And I always look to my friends and family. They’re often the best source of encouragement. Self-doubt is natural to every writer, but it’s just another bump on the road.

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    • November 9, 2012 at 8:27 am
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      Thanks for the comment Margaret, there’s some really good tips there. I like the idea of finding out how other authors do it and reading reviews. It’s nice to have supporting families too, I have some really great people I can talk to 🙂

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  • November 15, 2012 at 1:18 am
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    I really think self doubt is a good thing. It keeps us from getting a big head and thinking we’re too good. All of us have room to grow and improve, even the giants in writing. As we learn and improve, our stories get better. We sell more copies. We pick up reader base. Honestly, if you improve enough to look back at your first works and find they need work, you can ALWAYS go back in and edit. Resubmit it as an updated version. No harm, no foul. No crisis.

    On the other hand, it’s really hard to not let that nagging self doubt make you curl up in a ball and cry yourself to sleep. There are days when I sit and ask myself why my crit group hates me. They don’t hate me. They want to see me get better. I want better for myself because I don’t want to look back at the first book I’ve published and think “that really wasn’t my best work”.

    As for the reviews? We all need thicker skin to realize that there is always some truth in a review, even if that truth is “this guy is a jackass”. Some people review a book just to be a jerk to someone else. They say those things on the internet because they can. They don’t realize real people are on the other side of those screens reading what they say. Sometimes they don’t care. If you can read it a month later and still not get any truth out of it (once the initial sting wears off), chalk it up to someone being hateful to someone who has done something they themselves cannot and move on. They’re called trolls for a reason. If you can take something from it, awesome. Use it to improve your writing later on.

    Writers are a strange form of masochist. 🙂

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    • November 16, 2012 at 12:19 pm
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      Thanks for the reply Carrie. I certainly agree with you that doubt makes us want to try harder and better ourselves. That’s a really good way of looking at it, I’ll definitely try to remember that when I’m doubting myself 🙂

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      • November 17, 2012 at 11:36 pm
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        It’s always difficult to stay positive when one comment drags you down. Have you seen the comic The Oatmeal did? It rang true. One bad comment can seem like the entire Internet hates someone.

        Reply

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