Creativity and Self-doubt


It’s that time of the month again, first Wednesday, which means, it’s Insecure Writer’s Support Group:

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!


Today we’re talking about self-doubt:


As a creative person, I like to have feedback on my creations. For me, this means opinions on my writing and stories. Since I haven’t published yet, the experiences I’ve had with feedback thus far are with beta readers. I had quite a few last year (about twelve of them) after I finished the first edits on my first book. Despite the corrections, I was highly encouraged by the positive responses to my characters and their story. It actually helped me stay on track knowing that readers had enjoyed it.

For published authors, the positive reviews on Amazon, Goodreads, blogs, etc, are a good indicator that readers love their stories and characters.

But what do you do when the feedback is less than positive, even when the criticism is meant to help you grow? I tell you, it’s hard to take and it leads to a lot of self-doubt. It’s easy to fall into a pattern of “maybe I don’t know what I’m doing”, and “maybe nobody will ever like it”. Self-doubt is like the seed of a weed—once it takes root, it’s hard to yank it out.

Earlier this week I got my manuscript back from my editor. I hired her on an excellent recommendation. She’s experienced and I trust her experience and opinions. Plus, I know her goal is to help me with my story. She had lots of good things to say about my story, characters, setting, overall proper writing mechanics, but there were also lots of corrections. This is really why I hired her, to see where my problems are. But knowing this doesn’t make it any easier to deal with those edits. And knowing the story so well with all the time I’ve spent working on it means I’m too close to it, and it’s all too personal. I can see the problems but I can’t see the solutions. Talk about major insecurity.

I was left with a simple decision—give up on my story, or believe I can make it better. As hard it was to think about it, it was also an easy decision to make: I believe in my story and characters, therefore I believe in continuing with the work, no matter how hard it is and how long it will take.

After talking it over with some writer friends, I concentrated on the positive and turned my back on self-doubt. I know it will still pop up unannounced, and more often than I care for, but keeping my goal and my belief in the story and characters are the reminders I need to not give up.

Insecure Writer #213

What are some of the trusted ways you use to get over discouragement and self-doubt?

  • Diane BurtonJune 4, 2014 - 7:53 AM

    Believing in your story is the key. Stepping back & giving yourself some space from your story also helps. Best wishes!ReplyCancel

    • LucindaJune 4, 2014 - 8:09 AM

      Thanks, Diane! It’s a definite lesson learned. And if I don’t believe in it, who will, right?ReplyCancel

  • Mary AalgaardJune 4, 2014 - 10:06 AM

    I think initially, we focus on the negative. Still, we want to do better and start to see the positives and that the corrections are there to improve our work.
    Best wishes on the revisions!
    Play off the PageReplyCancel

    • LucindaJune 4, 2014 - 11:58 AM

      Thanks, Mary! That’s how I feel, the corrections are meant to improve!ReplyCancel

  • Linda Cassidy LewisJune 4, 2014 - 11:09 AM

    I wish you well on your continued edits.

    I believe I was born with self-doubt. It hampers everything I do. I could probably finish writing a book every six months if I didn’t stop and start so many times, sure that I have no clue how to write, and no one will like this story, anyway.

    And you’re right about public reviews. The good ones make your spirits soar; the bad ones feed your self-doubt. Even harder is complete silence from people you know have read your book. Self-doubt makes a feast of that silence.

    May you receive only honest reviews: mostly good, but if bad, may they be constructive.ReplyCancel

    • LucindaJune 4, 2014 - 12:01 PM

      Self-doubt is definitely hindering, isn’t it? Wish there was an easy way to get over it. Thanks for the visit, Linda!ReplyCancel

  • Donna B. McNicol [@dbmcnicol]June 4, 2014 - 11:14 AM

    Remember, you HIRED your editor. You don’t have to take all her input and use it, time to use your best judgement. If you feel she has made a wrong call, stick to your guns. I know several best selling authors (not me, lol) and that is the advice they gave me.

    Hang in there!

    D.B. McNicol
    Romance & Mystery…writing my lifeReplyCancel

    • LucindaJune 4, 2014 - 12:01 PM

      Not the problem I’m having, Donna. I totally trust my editor and her judgement. Thanks for visiting!ReplyCancel

  • VR BarkowskiJune 4, 2014 - 1:51 PM

    To combat self-doubt, I try to focus on what I can control: the writing. I can always make the writing better, always tell my story more effectively, but at the same time I realize my story will never be perfect. Accepting this single truth is the key to managing self-doubt.

    VR BarkowskiReplyCancel

    • LucindaJune 5, 2014 - 12:55 PM

      It can’t be perfect, but it can be the closest to perfect I can make it. Thanks, VR!ReplyCancel

  • Michelle WallaceJune 4, 2014 - 2:19 PM

    Hang in there. Persevere. Because of your solid belief in your story, it will work out in the end.
    I also believe that input=output. This applies to anything you do in life. You’ve stated that you are prepared to put in the work, no matter how hard it is, or how long it may take, so I think you have the correct attitude to succeed!
    Writer In TransitReplyCancel

    • LucindaJune 5, 2014 - 12:54 PM

      That’s what I just said to a friend yesterday—I don’t want to do what’s easiest, no matter what it takes or how long it takes. Thanks, Michelle!ReplyCancel

  • S. Katherine AnthonyJune 4, 2014 - 3:38 PM

    Oh self doubt. We can’t let it win! That being said, I have the same moments here and there. Even if its tough to hear, it’s great to get that type of feedback before publishing so we can work on improving it, right? I’m thrilled to read you believe in your story and you wont give up. Great things don’t come easily, after all.ReplyCancel

    • LucindaJune 5, 2014 - 12:53 PM

      This is definitely the time to work on improving and correcting all the mistakes, before the book is published. Thanks, Katherine.ReplyCancel

  • Shannon LawrenceJune 4, 2014 - 4:43 PM

    I’m an eternal optimist, apparently, so I always circle back to someone else wanting to publish my story and go for it all over again.ReplyCancel

    • LucindaJune 5, 2014 - 12:52 PM

      It feels great when others like our stories, doesn’t it? Thanks, Shannon!ReplyCancel

  • EE GiorgiJune 4, 2014 - 4:44 PM

    Good for you on not giving up! always focus on the positive and remember: you write because it’s what you enjoy most! that’s what keeps me going… when self-doubt comes, I tell myself: so what? I’m doing this because it’s my outlet and my therapy. 🙂ReplyCancel

    • LucindaJune 5, 2014 - 12:51 PM

      Definitely an outlet and a therapy. And no, I won’t be giving up. Thanks for coming by, EE!ReplyCancel

  • Doreen McGettiganJune 4, 2014 - 7:39 PM

    The advice I received when in that very situation was to make every change the editor asked for and if I didn’t like it when finished I could go back and rework it. My editor was 100% right and I credit her for the success of my first book.
    I wish I could get her voice out of my head while writing book #3.ReplyCancel

    • LucindaJune 5, 2014 - 12:50 PM

      That sounds like great advice, Doreen! GL with book 3!ReplyCancel

  • AJ Lauer (@ayjaylauer)June 4, 2014 - 8:58 PM

    Ahh self-doubt (also, ahhh Sylvia Plath… Love.)
    Yeah that’s a beastly one! But, it seems as though the editor liked what you had going on, just had lots of suggestions. That’s great! If she took the time to offer solid suggestions, that means she got invested enough in the story to care about it becoming better. There’s not much better news than that. 🙂
    Happy IWSG Wednesday!ReplyCancel

    • LucindaJune 5, 2014 - 12:49 PM

      Thanks for the visit, AJ! And yes, she pointed out the things she liked as well.ReplyCancel

  • HolliJune 4, 2014 - 10:53 PM

    Okay, I have to say it. I’m sorry, but I have to. Please, please, please make sure that you agree with these edits, and any edits, before you make them. It doesn’t matter how much experience an editor has–it’s your story, and you know how to tell it best.

    You have to be careful when it comes to how many editors and critics you have for one novel. In my experience, almost everyone will have a different opinion, and if you try to please everyone, you’ll end up destroying your voice.

    I’m sure you already know these things, but I’d feel badly if I didn’t mention them. It’s great you’re willing to do the work, but please make sure it’s work that you agree needs doing. Good luck!ReplyCancel

    • LucindaJune 5, 2014 - 12:48 PM

      Not a problem here. Holli. The story is mine, but I hired my editor so she can help me with the problems. Thanks for the visit!ReplyCancel

  • SittieCatesJune 5, 2014 - 4:46 AM

    I hear you.

    For me, walking around the park and meditation are some of the things I do to get over this.ReplyCancel

    • LucindaJune 5, 2014 - 12:47 PM

      When I’m not in the mood to write, I like to read.ReplyCancel

  • Sandra HutchisonJune 5, 2014 - 7:33 AM

    The ability to work with an editor to improve your manuscript is what separates the pros from the amateurs. It doesn’t mean you have to accept every edit, but it means you’ll seriously consider each one, and find a way to solve most of any serious issues pointed out, even if you might prefer to solve it in a different way than the editor suggests. I’m sure you’ll do fine.ReplyCancel

    • LucindaJune 5, 2014 - 12:37 PM

      Thanks, Sandra. I’m very happy with my editor, she’s very encouraging and I trust her experience and opinion.ReplyCancel

  • E.ArroyoJune 5, 2014 - 8:19 AM

    I stopped reading reviews. I look at the rating but that’s it. I recently attended a workshop about reviews facilitated by Sarah Wendell of Smart Bitches, Trashy Books and she was awesome. Said that long winded reviews are the best, even if they’re bad because other people will pick it up and say…I like everything she didn’t. Someone’s trash is someone else’s treasure. Getting feedback early is the best thing because you can make the changes you need. Once it’s out there… Good luck. Whenever I get discouraged I dance, read, and watch a lot of bad tv. =)ReplyCancel

    • LucindaJune 5, 2014 - 12:36 PM

      You are so right about getting early feedback. And it’s true, sometimes a negative review will get other people to read the book. Thanks for the visit!ReplyCancel

  • Michael Di GesuJune 7, 2014 - 10:58 PM

    You did the right thing! It is very important to believe in your story and to hire an editor to help you sort it all out. What I suggest is step away from this particular project for at least a month. Three if you can. Work on something new and exciting to you. THEN go back. You will be amazed …

    That’s when the solutions will come to you. Not now while you’re anxious about it.

    ALL the best!ReplyCancel

    • LucindaJune 9, 2014 - 9:28 AM

      Thanks for the visit, Michael. A break does help. I took 6 months off from this manuscript last year while I worked with other projects. It was helpful.ReplyCancel

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