How to Deal With Self-Doubt as a Writer

Today’s one of those days. It’s filled with self-doubt. All these big feelings of a sense of worthlessness, worry, anxiety. And I’m writing a novel, so I’m dealing with the big question: Who would want to publish this?

There’s plenty of opportunity for self-doubt when you’re a writer. Not only will you doubt yourself, but other people will doubt you, too. I’ve learned that you have to continue writing even when you don’t feel like it. I’ve discovered that stopping a piece of work just because it’s hard, either emotionally or imaginatively, is a bad idea.

In the end, self-doubt is just part of the job of being a writer. It pains me to say it, but self-doubt is a completely normal part of being a writer. Award-winning novelist Mindy Halleck, says her grandmother would tell her: “Never let self-doubt drive your car. It rides in the back seat.” Meaning you’ll always have doubts, just don’t let them run the day. Put them at the back of your mind.

Here are three things I remind myself on days like today, to prevent self-doubt from driving the car:

1. Take your eyes off the price and put them on the prize.

2. It takes as much energy to be a non-writer as to be a writer. It’s just a question of where the energy is directed.

3. Self-doubt is just part of the creative process. It doesn’t go away. It sits there. It’s part of the process. So we need to learn to live with that and go forward. Finish your manuscript, publish your book, and get your words out into the world anyway.

A Writerly Life: Joanna Russ

“If you are a woman and wish to become pre-eminent in a field, it’s a good idea to (a) invent it and (b) locate it in an area either so badly paid or of such low status that men don’t want it.”
― Joanna Russ, How to Suppress Women’s Writing

Writing Tip #8


Clock in the hours. Life – work, love, children – can get in the way of our writing plans. Do not regret the shape your life as a writer-woman has taken, don’t fret not having a regimented writing schedule, but do find a way to clock in the hours. Successful women writers may change their writing schedule when life gets in the way, but they keep at it. They clock in the hours.

A Writerly Life: bell hooks

“Like many writers, I am protective of the time I spend writing. Even though women write more today than ever before, most women writers still grapple with the issue of time. Often writing is the task saved for the end of the day. Not just because it is hard to value writing time, to place it above other demands, but because writing is hard . . . Now I accept that facing the difficult is part of the heroic journey of writing, a preparation, a ritual of sanctification—that it is through this arduous process of grappling with words that writing becomes my true home, a place of solace and comfort.” (p.22)
― bell hooks, remembered rapture: the writer at work



Drink some coffee and pretend you know what you are doing. #goals #Monday #writing #tryingtowrite #babysteps

Writing Tip #7

A woman does not have to write. She must imagine that she must. Each day is a struggle, and the outcome is always uncertain. Writing is work, it’s also gambling. You don’t get a pension plan. Today don’t just choose to write, choose to imagine that you must write.

Why Can’t I Find Time to Write? Part 3

This is the third in a several-part post.

The stories we tell ourselves matter.

Do you think about the stories you tell yourself?

Thomas King, in his book The Truth About Stories, says, “The truth about stories is that that’s all we are.” Furthermore, he says, “We live stories that either give our lives meaning or negate it with meaninglessness. If we change the stories we live by, quite possibly we change our lives” (p. 153).

What are the stories you tell yourself?

I know from my PhD work that circumstances – slow to change cultural traditions, critical attitudes, limited spheres of publishing opportunity, even subject matter constraints – make writing success more difficult for women than it is for men, because each of these circumstances has a story attached to it.

We need to explore the stories we live by.

Instead of asking, Why Can’t I Write? The two questions we need to be asking ourselves are:

What stories am I telling myself that prevent me from writing?

What stories are other people telling me that prevent me from writing?