How Writers Overcome Self Doubt

So after weeks and months of writing, worrying, editing, occasional flashes of excitement and a lot more worry, it’s almost time for the publication of my book baby: Who Killed Patrick?

I’d love to say writing a book is easy, but it’s not. It’s not the actual act of writing which is so hard (although it has to be said trying to find that volume of words – 80-odd thousand – to connect in a logical order is no mean feat), but what many writers battle with is the ever present danger of self doubt.

Self doubt kills creativity.

Self doubt destroys the dream you may one day make it to The End.

Self doubt ensures you never feel good about the sentence you just wrote, even though yesterday it made your heart sing.

And so the only way writers who end up finishing and actually publishing their books, are those that battled through the self doubt to hope/wish/cherish the idea that maybe they are good enough. Despite the amount of book choice out there, you’d be surprised how many quit on their dream and never make it to The End.

And I know it’s really easy as a reader to criticise (I do it myself, I’m human too), but I often spare a thought for the creator. What I have in my head when you’re reading my words, may not be the same meaning you have in your head. Words are empty vessels, it’s you as the reader who fill them up with significance.

I’ve spent the last few weeks busy in excitement. I ordered special hand made guinea pig gift wrap from America to wrap up my paperbacks before sending them to reviewers. And now I nervously wait to hear their feedback.

I’ve forced myself to take some time off (thank you kind weather for sending sunshine to Devon) and I treated myself to some new flipflops (Crocs, Swiftwater – highly recommended!)

I’ve already participated in some book blogger Q&A’s, written some guest blog posts and eagerly hope reviewers and readers will find fun and good times in my new book.

Books are to authors, as children are to mothers.

We want the best for our offspring. We nurture them and we love them and then we send them off into the world hoping they will make their own way. We’re sad when they leave, we worry about the dangers they may face, but we’re excited for them to find their own happiness. And it may sound strange, but as an author you want your book to shine on it’s own, to grow independent and no longer need your support. Of course, you will always be there to love and take care of it, but there comes a time when your book needs to stand up for itself.

To live independently in the minds of readers.

I know for me, despite the passage of time, my characters stay with me for years afterwards. I wonder about them, I think about what they may be doing next, about what other problems may have befallen them.

I like to challenge myself and when faced with an issue in life, I think about what my characters would do if they were me. People are all so different and I get such a variety of answers, it’s brilliant. Having a whole host of characters on tap to apply to life’s problems is the writerly way to gain perspective.

Although it must be said, sometimes there’s such a thing as too many viewpoints!

But I digress, and what I want to say is to publish a book, thousands of words that have sat on an author’s screen for months on end, is no small thing. But the biggest thing, I think, is for an author to be brave enough to push through the self doubt and to say to the world: Here, read my words.

Self doubt is a killer, but bravery is the best form of defence.