There is no doubt, that no matter where you are on your writing journey, you have faced self-doubt. That you probably still feel it. Whether each time you sit down you feel it like a shadow creeping in on you, or after you find yourself published you wonder if it was a fluke.
Every writer has self-doubt. Because writers, as a group, want what we write to be amazing, to be perfect. It’s why sometimes we find ourselves in a circle of revisions, always feeling it could be better.
Writers demand a lot of their writing, because readers demand a lot from what they choose to read. This can cause a crippling effect for the writer. Always thinking of how their writing will be received, the comments they will get, the feedback, and most of the time our minds always wander to the worst case scenario.
If you feel this way, know that you are not alone. This is a completely normal feeling that most, if not all, writers have. I know I do. So here are 5 tips to help you overcome self-doubt about your writing.
No, seriously. If self-doubt creeps in, write. Write through it. Don’t think about what you’re writing, just write. Write a novel, a short story, a poem. Just write. When you work through your doubt, when you keep forging ahead, by the time you finish you will feel so overwhelmingly relieved that you finished, that self-doubt you had about writing will wash away.
- Ignore the negative people.
I know, I know that it’s hard. It hurts when we get particularly hard criticism. As writers we know we need to have a thick skin, but that doesn’t mean that we don’t feel. In fact, I have found through other writers, that we feel a little too much some times. These can cause self-doubt to creep in again.
When this happens, remind yourself, you’re writing for you. This is your story. You’re not writing to make friends; you’re writing because this is unequivocally what you want to do.
Take every review, every comment, every critique with a grain of salt. You can’t please 100% of the people 100% of the time. Some people, no matter if you are the second coming of Hemingway is going to hate what you wrote. Some people are just going to hate it. And that’s ok. If you can please yourself, if you can tell the story you want to tell, and you are happy with what’s on the page, that is what matters.
Keep this in mind, it does not matter how many and who hated what you wrote, what matters are those that loved it.
- Talk to other writers.
Yes, this can be a huge help. When you are facing self-doubt, instead of wallowing in it, talk to other writers. Every writer, everywhere, has dealt with it at one point or another. When you can talk with others that have been exactly where you are, they could offer insight, guidance, and advice on how to move past it.
Knowing that you are not alone, that this is a normal feeling, a rite of passage if you will, can help you greatly when that monster of self-doubt is lurking in the shadows.
- Get inspired.
Yes, when writing there is no muse sitting there whispering in your ear making everything you write gold. If you are waiting for inspiration to hit you before you start, you may be waiting a very long time. But you can inspire yourself.
Go outside, people watch, imagine what their lives are like.
Read, read widely. Every genre. Get inspired by other writers. Their words, their stories. By no means am I saying to use their stories for yours, but use them as inspiration. To fuel your imagination.
Daydream. Daydream about what it would be like to win the lottery, if a dragon came crashing down on your house right now, if the zombie apocalypse were to happen right this second.
Your imagination is a muscle like anything else. You need to work that muscle to keep it flowing. Use it, and let the inspiration flow through you, to fuel your writing.
- Accept the fact that sometimes, sometimes you will just fail.
Failure is a part of life. It’s our failures and how we handle them that we grow. It helps to mold you, it teaches you, and you learn from them. It’s also our failures where the self-doubt stems from.
I have found that I have learned more from my failures, than from my successes. While yes, of course I love the successes more than the failures, but the failures I am grateful for. It’s the failures that stay with me. It’s the failures that I will analyze. The failures that I will pour over to learn from. To find out what I did wrong and to determine what I could have done differently, so I don’t make that same mistake.
So don’t let any past failures hold you back. If you started 50 novels, but never finished, analyze why. Learn from it, and try again. If you finished that novel, but always failed to edit it, find out why. Learn from it, and grow. If you finished a story, and you just hate it, and so do your critique partners and beta readers, figure out why. Where you not in love with it when you were writing, did you not do enough research, are your characters flat and 1 dimensional? Find out, and fix it.
Failures are just another step on the journey. You have so much more to gain from your failures than from your successes. Take a step back, realize what you messed up on, and fix it.
So there you have it, 5 tips to overcoming self-doubt in your writing. Now obviously, there are so many more things that you can do. Do you have any to add to this list? I would love to hear them!