Writing · Writing Process

When Self-Doubt Kills Productivity.

Recently, I’d been struck with a wave of self-doubt. As I worked on my re-writes, it began as a trickle; my first six chapters were a complete mess and felt I couldn’t continue until they were fixed. That was my internal editor speaking to me and as they kicked in; the self-doubt began to swirl around me until it stopped me in my tracks. I was doing nothing more than going around in circles. It was then that I stepped away from the keyboard.

It was also around this time that I was reading up on self-publishing. This coincided with reading about the odds of author success. I always knew that going down the road to self-publishing was not going to be easy, but I guess the reality of it all really hit home.

I’d been dealt a blow from the stick of truth (thanks South Park 😉 )!

The reality was that when it came to these re-writes, once again, I was stalling. I was using perfectionism as a crutch; going back over something I had already covered was not moving me forward and getting the work done. Editing prematurely was hampering my efforts. My self-doubt had turned into perfectionism and they fed into each other.

After taking some time away to gather my thoughts, I was reminded that when it comes to writing professionally, it is a marathon, not a sprint. We just have to keep on going, one small step at a time. Those moments when we encounter self-doubt, get rejections, when we’re told we’re not good enough or to get a ‘real job’, if we really want to succeed as writers, we have to keep going. Self-doubt will always hamper our progress and it is at these times that determination and perseverance will be our greatest asset.

The trouble with going over the same ground, I was too busy thinking of the end result, rather than enjoying the journey. I was considering the big picture, and instead needed to concentrate on what I can control (James Scott Bell has a helpful post on what to expect from your first novel). Thinking of my writing as a ‘business’, what I really need to focus on right now is my product; my writing (of-course, the key word there being focus). The best way to do that is to just keep writing my stories and focus on my craft; everything else is secondary.

It’s easy to let disappointments and doubts get the better of us, but by focusing on our goals and being held accountable, either through a writing buddy or a group, we can continue the momentum to keep moving forward.

Do you ever feel the need to edit before you finish a writing project? What things do you do to help you move forward and finish? Do you tend to focus on the end result rather than just enjoying the journey?

Image courtesy of Pixabay

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9 thoughts on “When Self-Doubt Kills Productivity.

  1. Yes, oh yes! Good to know we are never alone in spite of our words sometimes making us feel that way. This assessment of our writerly demises is so spot on, it both hurts and uplifts. Thank you Debbie! D x

    1. Thanks Dimity! Being such a solitary profession it can sometimes feel like no-one else understands, which is why social media and writing groups are so important. Thanks so much for your comment and for sharing. Hugs! 🙂

  2. Yeah, focusing on the end goal instead of the journey we’re on can really stall writing. I’ve found that Joanna Penn’s books like “How to Make a Living from your writing” has really helped to put things in focus (the free articles on her blog is also great and full of positive energy).

    1. Hi Ronel. I’m always doing this to myself, it’s a wonder I get anywhere! 😉 I haven’t read that book from Joanna, but I’m glad it’s helped you. Thanks for the recommendation. 😉

    1. Hi Anna. Congratulations on getting close to the end! I’m glad this project has worked out for you. Realistically, I guess a big mess is better than not having written at all. We writers really are gluttons for punishment aren’t we? 😉

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