The other day, I was sitting down to work on my novel and I was hit with this overwhelming feeling of self-doubt. Questions swirled through my mind: What am I doing? What if I'm terrible? What if I'm not good enough? What if people hate my book? Immediately, I wanted to close my laptop and stop writing. The way I saw it, there was no point in continuing if people were going to hate what I wrote anyway.
I felt that way for about two days and then I shook off the crippling feelings of self-doubt, opened back up my laptop, and started writing again. However, this isn't the first time I've felt this way and I know it won't be the last. I know these feelings will pop up again and again. So I did some research so I'll know how to better handle these feelings when they pop up again and I wanted to share what I learned with you.
Understand That This Is Part of The Process: Feelings of self-doubt are normal. All writers are going to feel this way at multiple points in their writing journey. There are always going to be times when you wonder if a particular paragraph, chapter, character, or plot point is good enough. Even as you improve and grow, you're going to doubt your instincts and your skill. Instead of wallowing in self-doubt, however, try to root for yourself. Understand that these feelings will pop up from time to time, take a moment to feel them, and then pick yourself up and keep writing.
Speaking Of Continuing to Write: Do exactly that - keep writing. We are our biggest critics. If you read over your manuscript and feel that something isn't good enough or perfect, don't be quick to go crazy with the delete button. Instead, exercise those writing muscles and keep writing! Then, let someone else with fresh eyes read your manuscript. This should be someone like a critique partner who is supportive and can give you honest feedback in a way that won't leave you feeling like a failure.
Stop The Comparison Game: I know this is easier said than done, but it should be mentioned anyway. Every writer is different. Some will pop out two or more novels a year while others might pop out one every three years. Some excel in character development while others excel in knowing how and when to set up the perfect plot twist. And that's okay! No two writing journeys are the same and comparing yourself to someone isn't going to make you feel better. To help you combat this try posting positive affirmations around your writing space to remind you of your strengths. Or, if you've received positive feedback in the past, start saving that feedback in a file on your computer or print it out and hang it around your space. That way, when you're feeling down, you can read these comments and affirmations and chase away the self-doubt.
Surround Yourself With Positive People: There will always be haters. You could have twenty people talk about how awesome your novel was, but its that one person who calls your novel trash that you're going to remember. I get it, it's human nature. However, you need to ignore the haters. As former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt stated, "No one can make you feel inferior without your consent." Don't let another person cause you to doubt your work, or worse yet, be the reason you stop writing. Instead, immerse yourself with positive people in the writing community who can support and encourage you. Build up a support system of writers and readers you can reach out to when you start to doubt yourself.
Remember, you aren't the first writer to battle feelings of self-doubt and this won't be the last time you deal with those feelings. Believe in yourself. Dust the doubt off and keep going - keep writing. I'll be at the finish line rooting for you! :)
*Still battling feelings of self-doubt after reading this blog post? Not sure how to start building up your support system? Leave a comment down below or shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org Also, if you have any additional tips that have helped you battle self-doubt in the past, leave them down below.