I’m switching gears to focus on something new.
And that is overcoming self-doubt as a writer.
I have come to realize that just about every writer faces self-doubt at times. And if it’s not dealt with it can absolutely crush us. We can find plenty of advice on how to improve our writing skills, and good writing skills go a long way toward building confidence. No doubt about that. But too little is written specifically about the lack of confidence. Considering how prevalent it is among writers—new and experienced—I feel it deserves much more attention.
Overcoming Self-Doubt, Fear, or Lack of Confidence As a Writer
It doesn’t matter how we label it. Self-doubt, fear, lack of confidence. They are pretty much one and the same. Your experience may come down to being unable to find the time to write, feeling a lack of motivation or inspiration, feeling that you lack good writing skills. Or something similar. But often they all can be traced to fear.
The good news is that we CAN do something about this. We are not hopeless. First, though, we have to recognize the problem for what it is and then get determined to fix it. In a bit, I’ll tell you how I coped with the problem when it first surfaced for me years ago.
I don’t care if you are writing fiction, a memoir, poetry, or something else. Or whether you’re working on your first book or your 50th. At some point, most writers face feelings of self-doubt.
The problem has been holding writers and aspiring authors back from penning the books of their imaginations probably since the first books were written. And it continues to sap the spirit and confidence out of us in all sorts of ways. Sometimes we’re not even completely aware of what is going on. We think the problem is a lack of time or inspiration. But is it really that?
I believe that a good deal of the time what is actually happening when we think our problem is a lack of time or motivation is some kind of underlying fear. Fear that we’re not good enough. Fear that no one will like what we’re writing. Fear that we will never find a publisher. Fear that everyone will think we’re a fraud. And on and on.
Yet if we stop to think and dig deeper, we will realize that the fear, in essence, is paralyzing us to the point of never resolving underlying issues that could be fixed, such as subpar writing skills or not understanding the publishing process. We don’t move forward because we lack confidence in our abilities or chances for success. Yet we can’t get better or ever succeed if we don’t put ourselves out there.
Overcoming Self-Doubt As a Writer
Our self-doubt often traps us. We can’t move forward and we feel stuck. Because we ARE stuck.
Years ago, I realized this when I wanted to become a writer. I was scared to let friends or others in my family see the work I had attempted. I didn’t want undeserved praise or to be laughed at. Not that anyone would have done either but that was my fear. So the writing just sat for a while, going nowhere.
I eventually decided that if I wanted to move forward, I had to let SOMEONE see my writing and give me an honest opinion. And that if I ever wanted to get better I would have to be willing to HEAR that opinion. So I worked up the nerve to take myself—fears and all—to a weekly fiction writing course at a local community college. It was one of the best things I’ve ever done to advance my writing skills and confidence.
We wrote story after story, and the critiques I got from the other students and the instructor were invaluable. I learned what I was doing that was good as well as what needed work.
My self-doubt didn’t go away completely–it still hasn’t to this day despite the seven novels and other books I have written–but it did help tremendously with my motivation. That’s why whenever someone asks me what they can do to improve their writing, one of the first things I recommend is to take a writing course that allows other students to comment on your writing.
As I mentioned earlier, the self-doubt never really goes away. It doesn’t. It just goes into hiding now and then, only to try and resurface when you least need it. We may not be able to get rid of it completely but we CAN learn to manage it. We MUST learn to manage it. That’s what successful authors do. It’s a part of the writing life.
This, in essence, is what I intend to focus on now: overcoming self-doubt as a writer. Here are some of the topics I’ll cover–
- Making Time to Write a Priority (click to see this recent post)
- Tapping Into Your Right (Creative) Brain
- How to Know When You’re Sabotaging Your Writing
- Learning to Write Through the Fear
- Taming the Inner Voice of Creative Self-Doubt
- Writer Comparisionitis
I’ll leave you with the following quote that I posted recently on my new Facebook page.
You can catch up with me on my new Facebook page by going to The Gutsy Writer on Facebook. I call it The Gutsy Writer ‘cause that’s what we all kind of aspire to, right? We want to be a writer with the guts to express what is really inside of us and to TRUST that it is important or interesting enough that others will want to read it.