A Message To New (Or Experienced) Writers About Doubt

Do you ever feel like a hack? Like a terrible writer masquerading as someone worth reading?

I do.

I wish I could tell you that it goes away, that once you write a certain number of books or sell a certain number of copies, you’ll magically feel better about your writing and never have doubts ever again.

But that isn’t quite how it works.

How do I know that?

I’ve written 12 books, working on number 13 at the moment, and I’ve published 7 of those so far. I have a small group of people who love my books, who follow me from one genre to another because they like my writing style. I’ve sold a respectable number of books (not a bestseller by any means, but respectable).

But this past weekend…

I’ve been questioning everything, wondering if I’ve lost my touch, if I ever really had it at all, if this next book will be the one that shows everyone that I’m actually terrible and should be shunned or laughed at.

All authors go through that, time and time again.

Self-doubt and imposter syndrome are pretty common among creatives.

It’s an unfortunate side effect of working with such subjective mediums. Whether it’s painting, writing, sculpting, playing music, whatever. Anything so subjective as art leaves the artist (yep, that includes writers) open to potential criticism that might conflict directly with praise from another source. It makes it hard to evaluate our work objectively.

And that’s where doubt comes in.

It makes us wonder which piece of feedback was right, and the worst part is… sometimes it’s all correct because opinion plays such a huge role.

Add in the struggles of actually writing (writer’s block, the absolute mountain range that is advertising, avoiding scam publishers, etc.), and there are a lot of things to get a writer down.

And it all contributes to the self-doubt.

Some days, you feel equal to the task at hand. Other days… not so much.

So how do you combat it?

First, by learning to trust yourself and accepting that you’re human. Which means that achieving perfection isn’t possible.

Second, by getting feedback from multiple sources. Assess all feedback for common threads. Then, hold onto the positive comments and learn from the negative.

Doubt doesn’t have to be a stumbling block.

It can be a tool to hone your skills.

After all, a person who never doubts their abilities never sees either a need or a way to improve.

Third, and most importantly, write anyway. Even if you’re doubting yourself, write anyway.


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