Dylann Rhea asked: "Whenever I need writing advice or I start to doubt myself I always find that I come to you. I read your blog and it makes me feel better about whatever problem I'm having. I'm a writer and I'm almost ready for my second book to be edited. I've had two people beta read for me so far who've said they though the sequel was good. When I wrote my first book, as it got closer to being edited and self published, I became very doubtful of my story. I started to think it was awful and really dumb. So far I have received really nice reviews and feedback from it. But now, with the second one almost ready I have that doubtful feeling again. I'm not sure if it's just me being nervous or what. Have you ever had this feeling? Do you have any advice to get past it? Thank you so much!"
Darling Dylann. I feel like this all the time. Every time I finish writing a draft, I think, “This story is dumb. It’s so dumb! Why did I write it?” But the more I write, the more I notice that this feeling of doubt is fading. So I think the only way to get past it is to acknowledge that it’s there, and keep writing anyway, knowing that it will fade in the future. Unfortunately, I don't think it ever goes away. Instead, you get used to it and are not scared of it anymore. You calmly acknowledge it and keep writing. Look at this recent Twitter conversation between J.K. Rowling to Val McDermid. They still doubt.
We all doubt ourselves. Always.
We're all the same.
There is always this trepidation. "Will they like my story? Will they understand it? Did I write complete nonsense? Will they think me an idiot? Is it too dramatic? Too sentimental? Too descriptive?" And on and on it goes. It never stops, really.
I found a curious thing that helps me with this. I stole it from meditating. I look at these doubting thoughts as just that, thoughts. They come and go. They are not real threats. They are not part of who I am. They have no authority over me and over what I want to do. And what I want to do is write. My job is focusing on my stories, not on my doubts. So I brush them aside. Sure, some days are better than others, some are worse. Some days I feel so low, I'm afraid I will never amount to anything and I start doubting every book I have written so far, especially my first trilogy. I have this impulse to pull it off the shelves everywhere and hide it. It's my first and I now clearly see its shortcomings and I want to fix them. Then I remember that I shouldn't. That trilogy reflects me as I was at that time. It should remain so. I'm only going to republish it as one book because many people have asked me for it: it's not a proper trilogy, simply one book hacked into three parts, so in a way it will be a different book.
I once went to see Christopher Moore, one of the authors whose books I love, and asked him the same question. He laughed when he said, "It doesn't get any better." Or something to that effect. I'm sure if you ask any writer, experienced or not, the answer will be the same. I have been asking this myself from the moment I started writing. It resulted in two previous blog posts, one called Pink Pony Horror (because it is) and another called Overcoming Self-Doubt (I tried to do it).
After writing for three years, I came to a conclusion that I can live with self-doubt. I try to learn to ignore it and keep writing despite it. Because I do doubt. I doubt every single day.
And when I doubt, when I think there is no reason to keep going forward, then I tell myself: "You can't afford to quit. It takes a long long time to become a brilliant writer. Many hours, many days, many years. Whatever pains and struggles life will serve you, let them be. They'll pass. Your writing won't. Your writing is here to stay. You'll be long gone but your words won't die, they will remain on paper. It is your passion, never stop pursuing it. It's worth your life."
And then I feel a little better.
Does this answer your question, Dylann? I hope it does. Does this make you feel better? I hope it does.
Darling writers, what do you say? Do you still doubt yourself? Do you think it ever goes away?