I often read blog posts that deal with writers’ self-doubt and are titled something like ‘how to defeat self-doubt’ or ‘overcome self-doubt and kick-start your writing career’…pretty click-baitey but then they do get me to click through every time…
However, when it comes to experiencing self-doubt as a writer, I am starting to get the feeling that self-doubt is part of the journey and needs to be managed.
So, expecting to be able to defeat self-doubt for good (or to be able to simply leave it behind for some lost-and-found to deal with) is most likely not on the cards.
I’m therefore not going to try and tell you that enough affirmations, a solid daily word count, and a number of highly motivational YouTube channel subscriptions are going to rid you of the little negative voice at the back of your head.
But there are three top tips that I can share with you which have helped me manage my self-doubt and get back in the writing arena each time I felt defeated and small.
1. Learn to write with your internal editor firmly switched off
It took me a good few years to understand that writing a bad first draft is better than writing no first draft. And because I’m about as stubborn as an old donkey, I wasted a lot of time trying to do things my way – the hardest way possible. Don’t be like me. Learn this lesson fast and move on. There is no scope for the self-doubt to creep in when you are busy typing. Don’t re-read what you have written until a couple of weeks later (minimum). This way, self-doubt won’t interfere with your precious writing time and you can always go back and fix things later.
2. Accept where you are on your writer’s journey
I have so often dreamed about the person I will be by the time my first novel gets published. I have attended a number of imaginary book tours, signed imaginary copies of my book, and given fictional interviews to book bloggers and powerful influencers. I have appeared on fictional TV shows and answered some pretty tough questions about my novel…yes, that same novel which still sits on my computer as an unfinished third draft (and I think I might even write a fourth one before I can go anywhere near the ‘publish’ button). Then, there is the formatting and the marketing which I haven’t sorted either. What I have learned from all of this is: don’t skip ahead of yourself. Accept your current position on your journey and enjoy it whilst it lasts. Staying in the present really helps you keep focused on the task in hand: finishing your novel. It also keeps he doubts at bay…
3. Do not compare yourself to anyone else (nor your writing to anybody else’s)
This is a tough one because it’s so easy to stalk other writers (even the really well-established ones) on social media and wallow in self-depreciating, blubbering self-talk about other people’s success, making the gap between you and them a gaping, insurmountable chasm. Learn to resist. I have lost count of how many times I have picked up a novel, loved everything about it and immediately wished I could write a novel just like it. Copycat alarm! Don’t even go there. Be yourself. Write what is yours to write. Let your style develop through continuous writing and stop torturing yourself.
Anybody else here battling with self-doubt today? If you’re a writer, I’m guessing the answer is ‘yes’. Let me know about your struggles in the comments below and feel free to share any other tips or strategies that you have used to get back on top when the doubts had you down. I wish you much success managing your self-doubt and a happy (doubt-free) Sunday!