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Winning the Battle Against Self-Doubt by Catherine Mangan

Writing.ie | Resources | Better Fiction Guides | Getting Started
Catherine Mangan

Catherine Mangan

When I set out to write my first book, I knew little about the process, which in hindsight is probably a good thing, or I may not have written it at all. I had a story in my head that I felt compelled to write and so I set about doing just that. In advance of starting, I had read books about writing books, done online research, talked to other writers, but ultimately, I hoped that the story that I felt compelled to write would resonate with a publisher… any publisher.

Regardless of where you’re at in the process of writing your book, at some point (and it’s different for every writer) self-doubt will crawl out from under its rock and settle itself unapologetically on your lap. The act of writing a book is one of true conviction as for the most part you do so alone, and without any feedback. Given that the average novel is eighty to one hundred thousand words, there’s a lot of time spent between you and the page without input or encouragement from anyone else, resulting in the perfect breeding ground for self-doubt.

Self-doubt is normal and quite common, and a certain amount can be a good thing as it can help you recognize where you need to improve and keep pushing you forward. Too much of it, however, can be debilitating and that’s when you need to draw a line and take back control. A few simple exercises can help you win the battle against self-doubt.

Become more self-aware

Self-doubt can manifest itself in many ways, but the most common is the nagging, negative voice in your head that questions your ability and your self-worth. Those moments when you begin to ask yourself if you are good enough and if what you are doing is good enough; that is self-doubt doing its best work. The first step is to learn to recognize it because the sooner you do, the faster you can learn to overcome it. Train yourself to hear that negative voice, to be aware of it when it first starts. As you sit down to work, stick a note on your desk or on the wall in front of you with a simple instruction to shut down that voice if you hear it. A simple “Stop it!” on a post it note can help you banish the negative thoughts and refocus on the work in front of you.

Take back control of your thoughts

It sounds simple enough but mastering your thoughts is a sure step towards conquering self-doubt. Like the old adage “you are what you eat” the same is true of “you are what you think.” We all struggle with negative thoughts but giving them permission to remain in your head to fester isn’t going to help. Instead learn to tackle them as they arise individually so that you can deal with them and disperse their power. Negative thoughts are all borne from something, so try to find the root of the problem. When you struggle with your next negative thought ask yourself where it’s coming from. “I’m not good enough” is a classic example. Do you really believe that to be true? Surely if you thought that you weren’t good enough you wouldn’t have started in the first place. So, where is this nagging doubt coming from now? When negative thoughts and self-doubt creep in, try to adjust your mindset. Be kind to yourself as we’re often our own worst critics. Try to look at how far you’ve come. It’s hard to feel good about something if you’re in a negative headspace, so focus on how much progress you’ve made so far and what you’ve done to get yourself to this point.

Stop and step back

Sometimes there is no avoiding self-doubt. When that happens and you can’t break free of it, take a step back from what you’re doing. It’s pointless to stare at your screen if you’re simply not feeling creative, but that doesn’t mean you get to take the day off. Instead, do something constructive that will keep your writing project moving forward. If you’re stuck on a chapter and can’t figure out how to continue, do something else. Work on developing one of your characters or make notes on other possible scenes to include later. When I get stuck, I’ll pull out my calculator and do a word count task, subtracting my current word count from my ultimate word count goal to determine how many more chapters I need to write, based on an average chapter word count. Then I’ll list the remaining chapters and populate them with any possible scenes that I have in my head. This helps provide a level of confidence because I now have a structure to work with, and if one chapter is simply not working, then in that instance, I can move on to another. Allowing yourself the freedom to step back from the page, can help you determine your own tricks for overcoming a temporary block, without wasting a whole lot of time.

Stop making excuses and giving in to the voice in your head. It’s okay to get stuck. Everyone does but learn to recognize it for what it is and either quash it or park it and focus on something else for now. Self-doubt is something we all have to deal with, but with a little self-awareness and effort we can turn down the volume on those negative thoughts just enough to get back to work.

(c) Catherine Mangan

About One Italian Summer:

Escape to Italy this summer and fall in love with the perfect holiday romance!

When Lily’s long-term relationship ends, she flees her life in New York to travel to her best friend’s wedding on the sun-drenched Italian island of Ischia – but could there be more to the secluded island than she ever imagined?

Ten days with nothing but sparkling seas, breath-taking beaches and delicious food sounds like the perfect cure for a broken heart. And Lily can hardly believe she’d never heard of Ischia before now. But Lily’s blissful break is short-lived as she discovers not only has she lost her boyfriend, she’s also lost her job.

As Lily searches for inspiration, she connects with local Matt, who shows her the magic the beautiful Italian island has to offer, and quickly inspiration strikes: Ischia needs more tourists and Lily knows just how to help.

As Ischia slowly heals Lily’s heart, will she in turn inject new life into the island? And will local Matt offer the possibility of a future she’d never dreamed of?

A glorious and uplifting escapist novel set against the stunning backdrop of the Italian coast. The perfect holiday read for fans of Rosanna Ley, Jo Thomas and Karen Swan.

Order your copy online here.

About the author

Catherine Mangan grew up in Ireland before embarking on her own Italian escape. She studied languages at University College Cork before moving to Italy (briefly) with friends, which was the start of a life-long love affair with the country. She now divides her time between Ireland and Silicon Valley.

Under another name, Catherine is an award-winning Irish entrepreneur and creator of a language-learning app, which has users in 175 countries.

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