Dealing with Doubt – The Writer’s Greatest Enemy.

Some realism is healthy

Everyone has to decide, when they write, whether they think what they’ve written is palatable or publishable. But recently I fell into the greatest trap for all writers: DOUBT.

It started with stress. I was ill, felt low, felt unhappy with my job. I began to doubt whether I still wanted to write, whether I was good enough to write. This was the beginning of my dry spell of inspiration, one which I’m still fighting. So what had happened? I’d gone from being super-motivated to not motivated even to pick up and pen and write my name. Why?

The answer is simple. I began to let doubts creep into my mind about my writing:

Maybe I wouldn’t be good enough,
Maybe it wasn’t right for me,
Maybe if I did get published it would be a job and would ruin my love of it,
Maybe I won’t be able to handle the work load if I do get published,
Maybe my ego will be too fragile if I get a negative comment,
Maybe I shouldn’t write a blog about writing,
Who am I to tell other people tips?
Maybe no one will read it.

The list is endless.

These doubts began to spill over into my writing time as well. I obsessed over what I’d written over and over. I rewrote it. Maybe the characters were wrong, maybe the dialogue is flawed, maybe it’s utter rubbish and needs throwing away. etc etc.

When you do this STOP!

You are obsessing not analysing. You’ve stopped believing in yourself.

So, how do we overcome this doubt?

The jury’s still out on this one. What works for one person, may not work for another. The best thing is to remember your love for writing, to tell yourself that you CAN do this, that you ARE good enough to write. Stop focussing so much on what’s wrong with your drafts and focus on what’s right. Yes, look at making changes and improving but don’t focus so much on improving that you lose your faith in your abilities and…

This is the biggie!

… Stop comparing yourself to others.

I mean it, stop it right now. Unless you’re comparing yourself favourably stop it. You are unique, everyone is. You’re writing is unique to you and you alone. Telling yourself how much you could get better at it if you just knew how to fix this or how to write that scene better won’t do you any good. You’ll try really hard then burn out. Focus on your positives and don’t give up. You’ll improve with experience. Most writers learn something new every time they write something, even if they aren’t aware of it. You need to have faith in yourself that you’ll work it all out.

So stop obsessing. I’m writing this as much to myself as to new writers out there. It’s a lesson I need to learn as well.

Reaffirm your belief in yourself and your writing daily. It doesn’t mean you have to become arrogant and think you know everything but you do need to strengthen your self belief.

Having said all this there is an interesting article that you might want to read:

5 thoughts on “Dealing with Doubt – The Writer’s Greatest Enemy.

  1. This is excellent! I can totally relate. Truthfully, what helps me overcome my doubt quite often is realizing that every writer experiences it. This way I just feel like it’s part of the process. If I imagine my favorite writers having doubtful thoughts like the ones you shared in your blog, I feel more at home with it. I feel like one of them. Loving the tips! I’m definitely subscribing to your blog. Good work!

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