I confess this self doubt is sometimes a problem. I know it makes me appear aloof at times, because if I’m feeling unconfident then I’ll sometimes simply stay out of things rather than participating. At other times I am too loud, overcompensating for my fears – I definitely don’t appear to be a shy person. When I had a long period between acceptances, my self doubt became almost crippling, and I seriously considered giving up writing
I’ve always worried about this lack of self-belief. If I express it out loud, it makes me sound a bit self-deprecating, or even as if I’m fishing for compliments – waiting for someone to tell me how wonderful I am – or, at least, my writing is. But, after another spell of this self doubt, I’ve come to realise that it’s not such a bad thing.
Because I have self doubt, I do hesitate before hitting send on that submission. And that hesitation makes me reread and see what is missing.
Because I have self doubt, I don’t tend to take rejections personally – meaning that instead of wallowing in a sea of ‘they don’t know what they’re talking abouts’ I instead try to consider how that manuscript can be improved before sending it back out.
Because I have self doubt, I know I need to keep studying my craft – through attending workshops, reading articles, blogs, how-to books , studying ‘good’ books to see what works, listening to the wisdom of ‘real’ authors at conferences and so on.
And mostly, because I have self doubt, I am absolutely thrilled when someone likes one of my books – and especially when that someone is a publisher who wants to publish one of my manuscripts.
Why am I telling you all this? Because the more I talk to, and listen, to other authors, the more I realise that there are many, many published authors who have similar self doubts. And I’m wondering if self doubt is not the problem I’ve always thought it to be – perhaps it is this very doubt which makes us able to sharpen our craft, celebrate the writing life and to strive to be better writers. Perhaps if I stop feeling doubt then my hunger to improve will diminish.
I would love to hear what other writers think about this. If you experience self doubt, do you think it helps you as a writer? And, how do you overcome that doubt so that you can keep writing and submitting? Leave me a comment.