I have been absent from writing for a few weeks now; I needed to take a break after writing my most recent WIP and more recently having undergone surgery. With the start of a new week, a new computer and feeling better after surgery, I was ready to start writing again. But then doubt crept in and I even began to question the genre of my choice.
Having suffered from self-doubt previously and as recently as April, I needed to work fast in finding ways to combat it. I started listening to writing podcasts, enrolled myself in a writing course and received a pep talk from my husband. Discussing these issues with other writers on social media also helped to quickly overcome those doubts before they became writer’s block.
On one of the podcasts I had been listening to, it stated that every writer faces doubts with each new novel, so it doesn’t go away. It’s just something we must learn to live with and work our way through.
I’m getting back to writing slowly, but slow progress is still progress, right? 😉
What do you do to keep yourself motivated when doubt hits you? Have you needed to take a break from writing recently? What have you been up to these past few weeks?
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6 thoughts on “What Do You do When Self-Doubt Strikes?”
I took a recent break from writing, and like you, am slowly getting back to it now. When self-doubt strikes I tell myself it is a natural part of the process, and a good thing.
I invite it to sit down on a chair beside me as I write, where it is allowed to look over my shoulder and not do much else.
Once the draft is done, I invite it to help– and it is a beautiful companion while editing–holding the light and telling me what needs fixing.
I hope you find your mojo back soon–and YES, slow progress is still PROGRESS! 🙂
Hi Damyanti. You say that so beautifully! I guess learning to recognise those doubts when they come and how to deal with it quicker is a process I’m still getting used to. I’m glad to hear you have learnt to deal with it and that you are also getting your mojo back. It’s good to hear from you. 🙂
I hate that pesky self-doubt. I am in a constant battle with it. Sometimes, I go back and read something that I wrote awhile ago. Because I have not thought about it for a long time I can usually be a little less biased about it. Anyway, I’ll go back to that old piece and read it. If it’s really old, it helps me realize that I’ve made great improvements as a writer and therefore I am a good writer. If it’s not so old I rediscover that I’m not such a bad writer after all. Either way, it gives me a little boost to my confidence and my ego as well. 🙂 Keep on writing!!
Hi KJ. I tend to do this too, not only because I don’t throw anything out as something can be salvaged, but because I find it’s a great way to see the improvement in my writing. This can be a great motivator to keep at it. Keep it up! 🙂
Doubt is definitely a sharp thorn for me. What’s really troubling is sometimes it doesn’t feel rooted in something. Rather it feels like doubt and anxiety just “spring up” and attach themselves. I can logically cite reasons why it’s not true, but sometimes that doesn’t help with the emotions.
In those times I think there are really only two choices, and the difficult task of deciding which choice is the right one “now”.
One option is to just “muscle through it” and say “I am a writer, and I’m going to write, regardless of doubt or anxiety”. In those cases I try to focus on a sense of pride that “even in spite of ‘this’ I’m still going to write,” not unlike the classic image of the postman who delivers the mail regardless of weather. (Often this involves some form of carrot on a stick, whether it’s a tasty beverage or snack, or a bit of fun after putting some time into writing.)
The second option is to engage something else, typically a “reliable win”, whether it’s something mostly physical like running, going for a walk, or what have you, or playing a game, something that has some challenge, and gives me a measure of satisfaction, but without any “real” consequence.
What’s really striking for me is how time and experience don’t translate into an easier time. The first two years of blogging carried a kind of fresh pride and excitement at the prospect of doing something new, and experiencing a lot of positive responses (it’s easy to feel a sense of accomplishment when something goes from 0 to something).
Now, in the third year, it feels much harder, and even continuing, let alone trying to grow, feels heavy.
At a certain point all I can do, all anyone can do, is choose to try, to continue. I can’t control what the results will be, but I can take a measure of pride in trying.
Hi Adam. Doubts can have an annoying habit of turning up when we least expect it and you state some good ways to work through it. I know what you mean about blogging. I’ve been blogging now for almost ten years and have often wondered why I continue doing it, but I’ve persevered and met some great people through it. Sure I don’t have a big following and am amazed by those people who do, but I’m happy with how far I’ve come (which reminds me of the quote ‘start competing with yourself’). As you say, all we can do is keep on trying. Part of the battle when it comes to writing is showing up. Keep up the good work Adam! 🙂
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