Writers are often consumed by angst - self doubt, anxiety and the consequences of well meaning attempts by friends and family members to protect us. The critical inner voice is hard to silence - particularly when we believe it.
In this courageous post writers self doubt by Heather Jacobs, she examines an experience that's familiar to all of us, but which we rarely talk about
Writers Self Doubt | The Self Doubting Writer
by Heather Jacobs
Many writers fight the self-doubt battle everyday. I’m one of those writers, but I’m trying not to let it take over my writing … or my life. But what do I mean by self-doubt? I mean that tiny little voice in your head (not your characters) that whispers into your ear that you and your writing just isn’t good enough.
My self-doubt started at the same time I decided to write to publish. Not shocking. Before that I wrote simply to release stress of the day. That doesn’t mean the self-doubt wasn’t there before. It was. I just didn’t pay it much attention.
It’s funny how a decision to form words into sentences that turn into paragraphs that turn into hundreds of pages can exasperate an issue like self-doubt. Just the idea of publishing something terrified me, but there was also something deeper; something that drove me deeper into quest to write something that could potentially be published.
I can’t explain exactly what it was, but my best friend will tell you that it was a good thing I had it. There were (and still are) many times when I tell myself I’m not good enough and I’ll never be published, that I should just quit now. Too many times I would give up only to return to the keyboard the next day and keep working. I don’t know what it was that kept me driven, but I’m glad for it. During these times I do a lot of reading. And in the long run I know that that reading will continue to make me a better writer.
Through this process I’ve had time to consider what it means to be an author – aspiring or otherwise. Writers battle with this search for the right title. Are we writers or are we authors? For me the elusive author title is packaged with the even more elusive book deal. I think though that my self-doubt will still make it impossible for me to ever see myself as an author for a while. I’m trying. Slowly, but surely I’m getting closer. I’m not constantly going back and forth changing my website between writer and author.
So what can a self-doubting writer do to improve? Keep going. It might sound simply, but it’s a good start. There have been many times when I haven’t wanted to keep going and have unceremoniously announced that I was giving up. My best friend would cheer me on and I think that made a difference. Actually I know it made a difference. Having people in your life that can cheer you on in your writing is important. It helps to keep you grounded in the real world. Writing is often a solitary venture and writers can sometimes lose touch with those around them. I know that I’ve had moments where I’ve gotten caught up in a story. We all have as writers I’m sure.
The old saying goes ‘pqanything worth doing is going to be difficult[/pq]’ and I believe that. Writing is fun, but it’s not easy. Writers pour their blood, sweat, and tears into their work and I believe that is another reason I doubt myself. It’s inevitable that one or two of your characters are going to have a lot of you in them. I know a few of mine do and not necessarily the good sides of me. Sometimes it’s the bad sides. It’s that realization that makes publishing a scary adventure.
As I get closer to becoming a published author I’m finding self-doubt creeping in more and more. I’m keeping myself grounded. Family and friends have been awesome and supportive. So my advice is keep family and friends around. Set time aside for yourself and your other activities. Stay positive. It’s hard sometimes, but you have to keep doing what you love and enjoy. And just remember that there are others out there going through what you are. Get online. Connect with people on Twitter. There is a vast world of writers out there. We are a strong community and so many will are willing to help out.
I may be a self-doubting writer, but I’m still a writer. And one of these days I’ll consider myself an author. Just keep writing and enjoying what you do.
Thank you for this post, Heather, which I think will be of great help to many writers.
Please give your feedback in the comments section below. Do you experience self doubt about your writing? If so, how do you cope with it?