When people ask me about writing, I think one of the questions I get the most is – how do you keep writing when self-doubt strikes? This happened the other day and I joked that most times I sit at the laptop I have a crisis of confidence but then I thought more seriously about the question.
Just how do you keep on writing when faced with rejections, peer criticism, one star reader reviews and people asking why you’re not as successful as JK Rowling yet?
Here are my top tips:
1. Know why you do it:
It’s easier to keep going back to the laptop if you remind yourself why you’re there to begin with. Do you love creating characters? Do you get lost in your stories? Are you desperate to have a book in a bookshop? Why are you writing in the first place basically? You could even make sure you remember by putting it on a post-it so you can look at it when you’re struggling.
2. Remember it will pass:
Don’t panic if you have a day when everything you write just seems rubbish or you’ve hit that horrid middle part and you have no idea how you’ll get to the end of your book. Take a break and breathe, recognise you’re stumbling and don’t stress about it. Read a book or do something you enjoy then go back to your story another time when you are ready to get over that hurdle.
3. You are not alone:
Every writer has a moment of self-doubt. Yes, even JK Rowling. I promise you. We have all looked at our words and worried they were all terrible. All writers have wondered if we’d ever get published. Fear is in our veins because this is our passion. If we didn’t care, we wouldn’t worry. Writing is hard and we’ve all struggled. So don’t feel alone – we’ve all been there, and we all will be there again.
4. Inspire yourself:
Try to turn the crisis around by giving yourself a pep talk. Out loud if necessary but you can also use anything positive to counter that pesky doubting voice in your head. If you’re published you could read a good review of your book or reach out to a writer friend to cheer you on. Dig out some good feedback from an agent or look back at a positive comment from your editor. Or check in with your mum and get her to remind you how amazing you are! Look back at your previous stories – you’ve written a book and you can do it again. Anything to lift you up and get you back on track.
5. Keep writing:
There is so much in the life of a writer that is out of our hands. You can’t know if you’ll get an agent or if your book will be published or how many copies you will sell. That can cause a lot of stress and worry but we need to remember that a lot of it we can do absolutely nothing about. All we can do is write. Write that story you want to tell. Don’t start second guessing in the middle whether it will be a bestseller or not, just keep going, get to the end and pass it on to the publishing Gods. You’ve done all you can do. Words are our superpower. So put that cape on and get your butt back in that chair because you can do it!
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