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We all have our own writing doubts. Sometimes, depending on where we are in the writing process, we might work our way through several writing doubts before we are able to finish our content.
What are writing doubts?
- The fear of the blank page.
- The fear of what people will say once you’ve finished.
- The worry that your writing could be better.
- The dread that you won’t be able to write another post, book, course after this.
- The confusion of having too many ideas and not knowing where to start.
- The fear that our writing isn’t interesting.
- The terror of never being able to get out a writer’s block slump.
- In essence, writing doubts are all the negative thoughts we spin ourselves in that stop us from being able to write or share our writing.
“The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.” – Sylvia Plath [Click to Tweet]
Why do writing doubts pester us?
Fear wanting to protect us. Why? Because…
- The blank page is unnerving.
- Honestly, it does hurt when our work is criticized.
- It is embarrassing when we make a mistake and don’t notice it until we’ve published.
So fear tries to keep us from the risks that put us in these vulnerable positions. Fear’s problem though is he doesn’t recognize balance. He doesn’t realize it is a good thing to take writing risks. It is okay to make mistakes—yes, even publicly. Sharing our writing helps us grow. But all of these good things are risks, so fear pesters us with writing doubts to protect us from these risks.
The thing is, you’re a warrior, and you’re going to write regardless because at the end of the day, even though you are facing writing doubts, the thought of facing a life without writing is much worse. You’re ready to battle these writing doubts because whether fear likes it or not, you are a writer!
7 Common Doubts Writers Struggle With
1. I freeze every time I start something new.
Odds are what’s really happening here is fear of that blank page. There’s nothing to work with yet. Imagine if you were sitting in a ceramics class and the instructor told you to make him a pot but didn’t give you any clay. Even if you make the world’s ugliest pot, you still need that clay before you can create that pot. Well, you need words before you can craft them into content.
The blank page can be terrifying, but the good news is, as soon as you start writing, there’s no longer a blank page. You’d probably be surprised how many times I fix my blank-page-issue with “I don’t know what to write about but I want to…” Seriously. Even if it’s a jumble, write anyway.
You can also overcome the starting doubt by not starting at the beginning but in the middle of what you’re writing. Again, once you have words on the page, you’ll be ready to start shaping them in the content you desire.
You’re a warrior, and you’re going to write regardless. [Click to Tweet]
2. I cringe at the thought of what others will say once they read it.
Good news! You’re not alone. A lot of writers feel the exact same way. It’s hard to put time and effort into something and then send it out to the world to be judged. Our writing is precious to us, and when someone criticizes our work, we feel like they are criticizing us.
I’m going to say this slowly: You are not your writing. Cross my heart: You. Are. Not. Your. Writing. This might seem harsh—your writing is important to you. Being a writer is part of your identity. But who you are isn’t defined only by what you write. As tough as it can be, separating ourselves from our writing can make it easier to share it with others.
Write Tip: At first, try only sharing your writing with people you trust. As your confidence builds, you’ll feel more comfortable sharing your writing with a larger audience.
3. My writing is never going to be good enough.
Let me counter this argument with a question: What is good enough? Really, what does that mean when we say “good enough?” The thing with writing is it is always in motion. Our writing is always improving. When I was a senior in college, I got my first C on a paper. And yeah, I cried. I always got As. How could this teacher give me a C? But you know? After working with that professor for a couple of months, my writing improved more than it had in the first three years of college.
When we push ourselves or when someone else pushes us, our writing improves. And now that it’s been seven years since I was a college senior, when I look back on those papers, I recognize my writing has improved even more. And guess what? It will continue to get better. Ten years from now I’ll look at this post and think, I could do a better job now. Sure. But in this moment, my writing is good enough. It’s what I can do. And in this moment, YOUR writing is good enough.
4. What if I can’t come up with any new ideas?
The fear of running out of ideas is a powerful doubt. Some days it feels like everything has been done. There aren’t any new topics to write about. There aren’t any true original stories to share. But you have something no one else does: you. No one else has your exact combination of experience, knowledge, personality, choices, and opinions. So it is possible to write on a topic another blogger has and still have an original post because you and that other blogger are both your own person.
The same goes for authors. So many authors abandon a book idea because a friend says something like, “Oh yeah? That sounds just like this T.V. show I’ve been watching.” So? Write the story anyway. The odds of it turning out exactly the same as that T.V. show is slim.
If you stay true to yourself and your voice, you will always have a unique spin to put on any topic. [Click to Tweet]
5. I have too many ideas; I’ll never be able to sort through them all.
If we’re not worried about having enough ideas, we’re worried because we have too many ideas. Hey, this can be a writing doubt too. Having too many different paths to choose from can be so overwhelming, we end up shutting down and choosing none of them. If you struggle with this writing doubt, get your ideas organized. I have different notebooks in Evernote titled “Blog post ideas,” “Newsletter ideas,” “eCourse Ideas,” and “Book Ideas.” Anytime I get an idea (or several at once), I transfer them into the appropriate notebook. This way I have the ideas, and because I know they’re not going anywhere, I don’t have to worry about losing them. When it comes time to choosing what blog post to write or what book topic to run with next, I sift through my Evernote notebooks and pick the ideas that stand out to me in that moment.
Know that even if you don’t choose an idea right in this moment, it will still be there for you later.
6. My writing isn’t interesting.
Your writing is interesting. It’s interesting to you. And it’s interesting to the right audience. If you’re struggling with this writing doubt, it’s probably an issue of not finding the right audience for your writing. There is someone out there who is just as interested in your topic as you are. Your topic may be unique. Your style may be unique, but I guarantee that are other people out there who want to read what you’re writing. All you have to do is find them.
Look at the audience of writers who seem to have the a similar voice or style as you. Or look at the audience of writers who write similar content as you. Your readers are out there, though, so don’t stop writing what you love because you think no one wants to read it. Someone does want to read it.
There is someone out there who is just as interested in your topic as you are. [Click to Tweet]
7. I’ll never get over writer’s doubt.
We face this doubt when we’re first confronted with writer’s block and when we’re facing writer’s block after the twentieth time. How long will it last? Why does this keep happening to me? Will it ever end? I hear you. I’ve been there too. You should know two things:
- We all face writing doubts. You’re not alone, and you will get through them because you’re not going to stop writing.
- You can push through any writing doubt.
Here’s how you can prepare yourself so when writing doubts show up, you’re ready to face them and keep on writing…
How to Keep Writing When You’re Facing Doubts
1. Do what feels right.
Are you putting off writing a specific blog post because you really do need more time or because you’re audience truly isn’t ready for it? OR are you procrastinating on writing that post because you’re afraid what people will say or you’re worried it won’t be good enough? You should know the difference between waiting and procrastinating.
And write about what interests you. Who spends the most time with your words? You do, so you should write what makes you happy, what keeps you motivated, and what peeks your interest.
2. Go crazy.
Try something new—completely new—that you’re most likely going to fail at. Yeah, when you’re afraid of failing, the best thing you can do is fail. Once you do, there’s nothing left to fear! You’ve already made a mistake. You’ve already failed. What’s left to be afraid of? Write on a topic you’ve never written on before and share it—somewhere, anywhere—you blog, social media, a newsletter.
When you’re afraid of failing, the best thing you can do is fail. [Click to Tweet]
3. Don’t apologize.
If you make a mistake and someone points it out (or worse, makes fun of you for it), thank them, correct the mistake, and move on. Embrace your own voice. Stop trying to sound like everyone else. Readers don’t want to know what everyone else has to say; they want to know what YOU have to say.
4. Have a plan.
Have an “if this, then that” plan in place.
- If I get overwhelmed with too many ideas, I will take one afternoon to brainstorm and organize all my ideas into individual notes in Evernote.
- If I ever feel my writing isn’t good enough, I will send what I’m working on to my best friend because she always boosts my confidence.
- If I’m not sure what to write in the next scene, then I will skip it and work on another scene.
Once you know what you’ll do when writing doubt shows up, then it’s just a matter of putting your plan into action as soon as writer’s block comes knocking.
There will be some people who don’t believe in you or your writing. There may even be people who flat out hate your writing. And some of them may be friends. And some of them may be family. That’s okay. I know, it might not sound “okay,” but it is. Because at the end of the day, you can only write you. You can’t force yourself to be someone else. You can’t force yourself to write the way someone else expects.
Accepting yourself and your writing is the best way to push aside writing doubts and keep on creating.
Are you ready to be that writing warrior and take on your creative doubts? If you’re still struggling with any writing doubts, comment below. We’ll help each other work through this, because every writer deserves his or her writing time. No way am I going to let writing doubts stand in your way.
Emily Scott is an author, artist, and literature nerd. She writes paranormal fantasy fiction featuring rebellious protagonists dedicated to knocking down their boundaries. Like any good California girl, she loves the beach and believe she should have been born a mermaid. Find her on Twitter and at her website.
Photo by Sergio Patiño