Every writer suffers from self-doubt at some point, no matter how successful they are. Questions such as ‘Who will want to read my work?’ and ‘Am I as good as …?’ can overwhelm a writer and add to the often crippling self-doubt. Sylvia Plath said: ‘The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.’
Simply thinking positive and ignoring self-doubt doesn’t always work but we can do certain things and encourage our minds to think in certain ways to know how to deal with it when it comes knocking on our door. I have put together some articles and podcasts that I hope will be useful to you when dealing with self-doubt.
This article tells us that in order to quiet the voice of self-doubt, you need to hear that you are good enough, talented enough, and worthy of being read. And not only do you need to hear it but you need to believe it. It talks you through steps to overcome self-doubt including not letting your inner critic win, avoiding comparing yourself to others, and the importance of having a go-to positivity person/ people. Understanding that setbacks will happen is a big part of being a writer but you can learn how to build yourself back up and celebrate your wins.
Writer’s Republic shares 7 ways to get over your self-doubt. They emphasise the importance of not comparing yourself to other writers. Every writer has his or her own journey, and separate and unique destiny. If you want to succeed as a writer, you will need to be courageous. You have to take chances and learn how to deal with doubts and criticisms.
Self-doubt is one emotion that can destroy a writing career. It makes us question ourselves and stifles our creativity. It makes us hesitate rather than take action towards our goals. 12 experienced writers talk about how to overcome self-doubt in this article.
The Write Practice tells us the ugly truth about self-doubt and talks us through steps we can use to deal with it. The first step is to acknowledge that you will suffer from self-doubt at some point. That doesn’t make you broken or weird or deficient. It makes you a writer. Another step is to permit yourself to write rubbish. There is no such thing as wasted words even if they are discarded later on. It is all practice, and this strengthens you as a writer. This article encourages you to write a writer’s manifesto and include statements such as I will write when I don’t feel like it, It’s okay if I suck right now, I will figure it out and get better, and I will not stop writing.
Self-doubt will not disappear overnight so you need to learn to face it head-on. Keep going, keep writing. When things are overwhelming try breaking your writing down into manageable goals. Remind yourself of why you began. Focusing on your passion rather than your fears will help you to move forward even when you are feeling uncertain. This article also tells us to surround ourselves with supportive people, not to compare ourselves with others, and to focus on our strengths.
Sarra Cannon explains that we feel self-doubt often because we are scared. We’re scared of what other people will think of our writing. We’re scared we won’t be able to live up to the idea we had in our heads of how the story would be or what we would achieve as authors. She advises you to keep going, keep learning, to permit yourself to suck and stop engaging in behaviours that trigger more self-doubt. Be positive by reading back through your favourite scenes and experimenting with things that make you feel good.
If you have ever asked, who am I to write a book? Then this episode is for you. This podcast offers practical ways to overcome your self-doubt. It might help to realise that self-doubt burdens even the most accomplished writers. Writing is something you’ll always be working on no matter where you are in the writing journey. As Ernest Hemmingway said, ‘We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.’
Acknowledging self-doubt is important. Let it sit with you but keep writing and putting your work out there anyway because, as writers, if we don’t write we are going to be unhappy.
This podcast tells us that rather than being an obstacle to overcome or an enemy to defeat, self-doubt merely highlights the reality of a choice: Will I place faith in myself or in my fear?
In his play Measure for Measure, William Shakespeare says ‘Our doubts are traitors, and make us lose the good we oft might win, by fearing to attempt.’
If we don’t write, if we don’t try to finish and polish that short story or novel, if we don’t send it out into the world then self-doubt wins. Moments of self-doubt will often creep up on us at various stages of our writing. Use these steps and suggestions I have shared with you to power on through regardless and keep writing. I will leave you with these words from author, Sandra Bond ‘Remember that you are the only person who can write the story you are trying to write, and if you don’t, that story will remain forever untold.’
I hope this week’s column has been helpful. As always, please get in touch if there are any topics you would like me to cover.
(c) Lucy O’Callaghan