Living with Doubt

March 21, 2010

It’s a fact I’ve learned to accept.  That little voice nagging away at you.  To be a good writer you live in a state of constant doubt.  Always tweaking and refining your craft.  But does it ever quiet down?

When I first started writing my current WIP in February, I set the page on fire.  My main character’s voice screamed the words at me and pushed me to type faster.  I poured her heart out on the page and spun giddy at how easily it came.  Happy with every word I typed and where my words took me, I kept moving forward.  I realize this is a first draft and there will be multitude of revisions but I love it.

Ready to move forward, I’ve decided to send it to my critique buddy.  Since I first put those words on the page a month ago, I have not looked at them.  I’ve spent the better part of the last two days reviewing, correcting, reorganizing and polishing my first chapter up for her to review.  For the most part I am happy with my original work but I did find it a bit all over the place so I reorganized.  I’m about to give it one final review tonight and then it is off.

And I’m scared.

What is she going to say?  Will she hate it?  I hope she rips it apart but I’m terrified.  I know it is far from perfect but doubt is seeping in my brain, knocking down all my confidence.  It pushes and pulls at me until I finally have to yell, “ENOUGH!  It is what it is.”

What do you do when doubt starts to eat at you?  How do you tear down the wall of doubt?

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  1. I don't think I can tear down that wall.
    The first chink will be put in it by a reader giving me positive feedback.
    Then it is a matter of chipping away slowly: rewrite, revision, reread.


    Publish or Perish

  2. I think I will always have doubt in my abilities, even if I become agented, published,'s something I struggle with period.

    But I think that you're handling that doubt perfectly. You're jumping in and working hard.

  3. I think doubt is normal. It comes to us in waves like confidence does. Maybe the purpose of it is to keep us striving to do better. But I really like what you said, "it is what it is".

  4. i just ignore it. sooner or later it just goes away

  5. Doubt is currently my buddy at the moment but I just tell myself to suck it up and push through. After all, you are your own worst critic. Sometimes the doubt is a good motivator to keep improving until you stop doubting yourself. Good luck with the reviewing and editing!

  6. I'm with Falen. I ignore it...because it does go away.

    And it will return again, no matter how successful you become.

  7. That's right AL, find a chink in that wall and start to chisel it away.

    Karen - I think it infects us all. It's how well can we ignore it is the plan.

    Catherine - it is normal, i guess it just bugs me when I have great confidence and doubt on the same piece.

    Falen and DL - I guess I need to get better at ignoring it. Maybe I should yell SHUT UP! Of course, I should never do that in line at the grocery store. or maybe I should, clear the line out and get me out of there faster.

    Nicole - Doubt was my buddy yesterday too. TOday, he's like a distant cousin. Tomorrow who knows, what his status will be. I am my own worst critic, in everything I do.

  8. Don't fear. And remember she's trying to help you. You'd rather hear the criticism from her than from a reviewer once the book is published. Hang in there!!!

  9. Oy, doubt is always my companion. I just console myself with this thought, "She probably won't hate it as much as I think she'll hate it." :)

  10. I always have doubt. It creeps in now and again. I try to sit back from my work and let it breath. It usually blows over when I go back to it. Good luck and there is something for you on my blog:)

  11. Kathi - you're right, it is trying to help me. But it still likes to toy with me, keep me on pins and needles.

    Natalie - I love the way you think. That is exactly right. DIana never hates it as much as I think she will. And I welcome all her criticism or how else will I ever grow?

    Christine - Something for me? You shouldn't have! I love flowers and chocolates and most especially, awards....:)

  12. I think there comes a time when you have to let your doubts just take a vacation. We all have them, we all NEED them, as they do make us better by pushing us to try harder. Every now and then though, we have to bite the bullet and send our work out to be reveiewed... That's when we need to give our doubts a first class ticket to vacation-ville and just roll with it.

  13. I'm really struggling with this at the moment so I can relate. Some days I'm good at tuning out my inner critic or just using her when I need guidance. Other days I'd really like to bitch-slap when she's being annoying.

    I like that saying, "it is what it is." Guess we just keep moving forward!

    Good luck to you!

  14. I think the more you write and the more you get involved in critique groups the easier it gets. When I first started I was very intimidated by other writers, but then I learned to appreciate other insights - even from writers who think very differently from me. Just be sure you're in with a good group. I wouldn't stand for someone cutting your ideas to the quick. Your ideas are the substance of your creativity. How you express that creativity is what should be critiqued. SCBWI calls it the sandwich method. Start with what you like, something positive. Then talk about what needs work and then end with another positive, what you do right. That way you come away from the critque feeling pumped and not deflated. It's always a risk to put yourself out there but you can do it! Dive in, girl!


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