Writing Tip Wednesday: Days of Creeping Doubt.

Every writer has those days where doubt creeps in and you start to wonder if you are really any good at all. I had one of these days just yesterday. I usually start to doubt myself when I receive a rejection (yesterday I got a rejection for a short story.). I think rejection is one of the main reasons writers start to doubt themselves. It’s perfectly normal. But as writers it is important to remember that rejection is part of the job, and to not give up because rejection is not a step back, it is a step forward. Rejection helps you to grow as a writer.

There are other things besides rejection that can create self doubt in a writer. Getting a critique that’s more negative than positive can help bring on self-doubt. Or not having the goals you’ve set completed in the time you thought you would. I have a goal to have a novel published by the time I’m thirty. That’s less than two years away. Yikes! It feels almost impossible when I put it like that. I don’t know if I’ll achieve it or not, but I won’t give up if I don’t.

There are days when you feel like it’s never going to happen, when that annoying little voice plagues you with the thought over and over until depression sets in.I think the longer you have been going at it the more and more self doubt kicks in. But when that self doubt is pressing down hard on you the one thing you shouldn’t do is give up.

Keep believing and it will happen.

When self doubt is plaguing you you might like to:
Read your favourite thing/ the best thing that you’ve written. (To remind yourself that yes, you can actually write.)
Write just for fun, for yourself. (Not caring about getting it published.)
Push past it. A new day can bring a new perspective.
Don’t give into it. If you have a dream, don’t give up on it.

Yesterday I was full of self doubt about my abilities and today I was reading over my first five pages, preparing them to be critiqued, and I was really happy with them. Just keep pressing on. Even published authors are plagued with self doubt.

Here are some quotes to keep you going when self doubt creeps up on you. (I stumbled upon the first one and just had to included it after confessing my 30 goal.):

“You don’t have to do everything by the time you’re 30. Or 40. All you need is a work ethic. It’s what allows you to push through moments of disappointment and self-doubt and fear.” — Candace Bushnell

“If you do not hope, you will not find what is beyond your hopes.”
—St. Clement of Alexandra

“The best way out is always through.”
—Robert Frost

“Nothing will ever be attempted if all possible objections must first be overcome.”
—Samuel Johnson

“Every rejection is incremental payment on your dues that in some way will be translated back into your work.”
—James Lee Burke

“I tell writers to keep reading, reading, reading. Read widely and deeply. And I tell them not to give up even after getting rejection letters. And only write what you love.”
—Anita Diamant

“An absolutely necessary part of a writer’s equipment, almost as necessary as talent, is the ability to stand up under punishment, both the punishment the world hands out and the punishment he inflicts upon himself.”
—Irwin Shaw

“I think that you have to believe in your destiny; that you will succeed, you will meet a lot of rejection and it is not always a straight path, there will be detours—so enjoy the view.”
—Michael York

Happy writing 🙂

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6 thoughts on “Writing Tip Wednesday: Days of Creeping Doubt.

  1. I think a good strategy for overcoming self-doubt is to set goals that are “quick” and reasonable to obtain. Accomplishing goals is a huge boost in confidence, so it seems very important to make ones that won’t loom over you for ages, daunting in their incompletion.

    This is why I haven’t set a large goal like yours centered around a novel for myself, even though I’m working on one. At most I set incremental goals for it: finish this chapter, write 2000 words, have this portion critiqued. I don’t want to have huge expectations surrounding it hanging around my neck. I would rather accomplish other things along the way that boost my confidence sufficiently, and then I’ll worry about big novel goals later once my undeniable writeriness is entrenched in the bedrock of my mind.

    Obviously this is just my strategy and everyone is going to be different, but just my take on it.

    1. I do set mini goals for myself too, that’s a very good suggestion to give to people. I have been working on novels – in various stages, a lot of them are unfinished – since I was 16. Back then I didn’t really set a goal of when I would be published but thought I’d be published in my 20’s. I didn’t set the thirty goal until around 24/25, when I actually completed a novel I thought could get published and started submitting. Setting the goal put the fire under me, I guess, to hurry and do it (start finishing and submitting manuscripts) because the clock is ticking.

  2. This is a great post. Everyone has self-doubt. There are days when I think everything I write is just awful, but then I’ll read it the next day and realize I was just in a doubting kind of mood and really my draft isn’t that bad at all. You really do just have to push through the doubt.

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