How do you overcome self-doubt as a writer?
Self-doubt is very common with writers. If you’re reading this, you’ve probably experienced this as well.
You want to write your book, and yet there’s this nagging voice in your head saying, “You can’t do this.”
Or, you’re getting ready to publish and market your book, and you’re overcome with the feeling that “No one will care about my book, anyway. Why bother?”
In this article, I’ll explain to you why you experience self-doubt as a writer, along with some tips to get over your self-doubt.
Why you experience self-doubt
Now, before you think: who the hell are you to explain self-doubt to me?
While I don’t claim to have all the knowledge or know absolutely everything about the subject, I have studied psychology and all my research focus has been on anxiety and avoidance behavior.
So, I do know a thing or two.
All right, whether your self-doubt is born out of insecurity or a more severe imposter syndrome, the root to it is fear.
Mostly, the fear of what others might think of you. (Or a variant on this, like: surely if I do this, people will know I’m a fraud.)
And because you worry about the reaction of others, you start doubting yourself: am I good enough? Will other people actually care about this book?
Of course, it’s a bit more complex than this, but I’m writing a blog post here, not a full essay.
When you write, your brain knows that, eventually, this means you’re going to put this work out there for other people to judge.
That’s very scary.
You may have noticed that your feelings of self-doubt creep up more often when you’re about to finish your first draft, final revisions, etc. That’s because it means you’re getting closer to exposing this piece of yourself.
Basically, your brain is trying to prevent you from getting hurt. It senses the potential danger, and the “fight or flight” instinct kicks in. Since you can’t fight words, this generally means you’ll avoid writing or any other writing-related aspect.
Because when you avoid it, this means you’re safe.
Of course, we know that publishing your book is not really dangerous. Sure, you may get some negative reviews, and they may hurt, but it’s not the end of the world.
So, how then do you actually deal with this self-doubt and the subsequent avoidance?
1. Recognize your avoidance
I believe this is an important step when you try to overcome your self-doubt as a writer.
So much of this process happens without you being fully aware of it.
But now that you know a little bit of why this happens, you can start to identify it.
Whenever you feel like you don’t want to write, or don’t want to do outreach for your marketing efforts, or anything else related to your writing, stop and think for a moment:
Why don’t I want to do this?
Is it because I’m truly not in the mood?
Or is it because it’s scary and pushes me out of my safety?
More often than not, it’s the second one.
2. List the worst thing that could happen
While fear is an extremely useful emotion (it prevents us from getting into dangerous situations, like jumping off a building or leaping into the fire), it’s a bit too sensitive for our modern-day world.
This means that, often, when we feel anxiety, it’s not a life-threatening situation at all.
So, as an exercise, try and come up with the worst-case scenario.
Let’s say you write that book and publish it. What is the worst thing that could happen?
No one reading it?
Or people reading it and only leaving bad reviews?
How will that make you feel?
And how will you react to this?
While having everyone hate your book is painful, it’s also extremely unlikely to happen. And even if it did, it’s not the end of the world. You can learn from this.
You can always start over.
But if you never try it in the first place, you’ll never know what will really happen.
3. Push through the feeling
This is very easy to say and not at all easy to do. Trust me, I know.
But when you realize your avoidance comes from a place of fear, it will be a bit easier to set it aside and do what you wanted to do.
Write that chapter.
Contact that influencer.
We already know the worst thing that can happen isn’t all that bad.
I know, this tip might not be for everyone. That’s okay.
Still, I’d implore you to give it a try. Meditation is wonderful for calming down your mind and being more in tune with yourself. It will make it easier to get past those nagging negative thoughts your brain sends your way.
You can simply look for an unguided meditation on youtube (at least 5 minutes), sit, and simply be. Whatever happens, happens.
If you’re reading this and think: this is all fine and dandy, but I need a bit more to help me feel more positive and get past those negative thoughts, then don’t worry!
I got a free email course especially for you.
If you click the link, you can see what’s included and if it’s something that could be helpful for you.
How do you deal with self-doubt?
I’m also interested to learn if there’s anything you’re already doing to overcome your self-doubt as a writer.
Do you have self-doubt on a regular basis?
How do you deal with it?
Do you have any specific techniques?
Any in this list you’d like to try?
Let me know in the comments!