Entering the World of Self-Doubt

As I have been working more diligently on my book (until this last week when getting the flu made it almost impossible to do, well, anything), I have begun to feel more confident about getting the thing done. I have specific deadlines for myself, and I do not like to miss dadlines.

Of course the other side of this is that spending more dedicated time on my book also brings on the ugly self-doubt monster. It goes something like this:

Me, typing away at what has to be pure writing gold….

Now it is time to review what I just added compared to the rest of the chapter I’m working in.

“Did I get enough detail here to get my point across? Oh, maybe I have too much detail. I’m just not sure, is what she ate really necessary to the story? Do I need to describe the scenery more?”

Continuing on with the work, still wondering if I am vomiting detail on the page or writing a Dick and Jane story here…

I begin to check out some of the books in the same genre I’m writing to see how other authors handle these questions. This is when I notice just how many new books are out there. I also notice many with so many spelling and grammar mistakes that it becomes fairly obvious they self-published with no one to edit their work for them. On to self-doubt number 2.

“With so many new authors out there, how can my work stand out in the sea? Is it worth it to try to publish when my work has the chance of drowning under all the other unpolished books out there? Does my book look like that? I definitely need to make sure I get an editor. Should I really spend so much time on this? What if I publish the book and no one reads it?”

After reading excerpts from other works, I decide to go back to work on my own story. Now this work includes back-tracking to check previous chapters for obvious spelling and grammar mistakes because apparently they are easy to make. (You don’t know how many times I have seen sense and since used incorrectly).

As I go back through my previous chapters we get to self-doubt moment number 3:

“Oh, is a 2000 word chapter long enough? maybe I need to add some more detail here. Did I end this chapter in the right place? I wonder if I should change the name of the villain. Anyone I know with a similar name might get offended thinking I was writing about them. Should I really mention the bigfoot society? It might detract from the story. But that is just too interesting to let it slide. (My story takes place in an area where there is actually a bigfoot headquarters in case you’re wondering about that one).”

After letting these self-doubts slow me down in my progress, I finally have to take a step back from my work and give myself time to get back on track instead of moving backwards in the story.

Does anyone else who writes ever have similar moments of self-doubt? What do you do to get yourself back on track?


3 thoughts on “Entering the World of Self-Doubt

  1. #1 –It’s better to vomit out the detail and edit and delete later. You might find some nice little gems in all the soil. If you’re second guessing what you’re writing you’ll never finish. Don’t try for a perfect draft the first time around. You’ll have a chance to re-read later to see if you get your point across or have too much detail or scenic descriptions.

    Your editor will help you discover what can be cut because a phrase, sentence, or paragraph doesn’t move the story forward. Noticing spelling and grammar mistakes in other people’s work is an important reminder to take your time –to edit, edit, edit, and then polish, polish, polish after your spew out your work.

    #2 –If no one has heard of you, your work won’t have a chance of standing out whether there is competition or not. As I mentioned in a previous correspondence, you need to find your audience and get your name out to them even before your work is finished. This way you will be assured of your work being visible when it’s ready.

    If you love the writing process and you want to be published, then yes, you do want to spend time on your work. You can ask yourself “what if” until the cows come home. “What if…” is simply the beginning of a fear statement.

    #3 –Don’t worry if a chapter is long enough. Just get it finished and move onto the next chapter. You can worry about that during the editing process. Changing the name of the villain is an easy process of “find and replace” so don’t worry about that either.

    All your questions are fear-based and it’s a way of allowing self-sabotage to keep you from facing the fear of the unknown and facing the fear of failure. (You can’t fail at getting published if you don’t finish.) Move beyond the fear and just write!

    1. Carol, thanks once again for great words of wisdom. The edit, edit, edit mentality is definitely the lesson I have taken from seeing some of the other published works out there.

      Don’t worry, I have not given up. This post was just a sort of vent for some of my frustrations as a writer. I know almost all who write have gone through their moments of self-doubt.

      I actually have begun to take the chance of erring on the side of too much description, though it is difficult in this particular story since the whole plot centers around a big twist, and I don’t want to give it away until I am ready. I look forward to hearing what you think of my 2nd chapter particularly if it has better description than the first. (After reading some work from others I’m also betting it has plenty of silly spelling and grammar mistakes too).

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