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How to Turn Off the Writer’s Doubt

I didn’t watch all of the Oscars on Sunday. One, I was super tired and two, Gravity had just won for best sound and the movie prided itself on there being no sound in space. But, the next day I was told that Robert De Niro introduced best screenplay with the following statement, “The mind of a writer can be a truly terrifying think: isolate, neurotic, caffeine-addled, crippled by procrastination and consumed by feelings of panic, self-loathing and soul-crushing inadequacy. And that’s on a good day.”

I consider myself to be a confident person. I hold my head high and proclaim my opinion with authority. I don’t like socializing in crowds, but I don’t doubt who I am (anymore) or that I don’t have to change. However, when it comes to my writing I am exactly like this statement…except for the caffeine part. I question myself a lot. I love the “soul-crushing inadequacy” statement because that’s what I do. I think I’ve said before, no rejection letter has torn me down as much as I can. In fact, the only reason why I am still writing at all is because I talk to other writers and guess what—they have the same feelings. 

I think the reason for this is because writing is as personal as one can get. It is a part of our identity. It not only stems from my fantasy but it also includes pieces of me inside. No matter how much I try to avoid it, each character has some part of me inside them. It may be amplified or exaggerated, but I don’t think writers can help putting themselves into a piece. I’ve slaved over the piece, manipulated and struggled to make every plot twist work. It is me placed on display for the world. No wonder I doubt.

These feelings obviously don’t cripple me, so I thought it would be good to close by giving a few tips on how to finish a novel.

1.       I have a great support system with my family and friends. I have people who I trust. They will tell me when things don’t work without tearing me down. Therefore, I believe them when they say things work. I don’t use other writers to help calm the critic’s voice because they tend to be more critical by nature—not that this doesn’t have merit.

2.       No one looks/critics my work until I am finished unless I am stuck. Everyone has an opinion and they are more open to it if the work is not finished. Not to mention, this fuels my doubt.

3.       Don’t practice critiquing other work while trying to write. That puts me in the wrong mindset. First create, then critique.

4.       Finally, ignore the voice. This is the hardest to do. But, the more I ignore my doubts and move forward…within reason…the smaller the hate in my head. Listen if it sounds logical, but if it is just tearing down then shut that part off and continue forward.

What are your tricks to overcoming?


  1. Daveler

    I agree with all four, especially number 3, although I would add (for me personally) not to look at bad reviews or critiques on other’s work as well, because nothing will make me doubt myself than having someone whine about the use of the word “shattered,” in a perfectly acceptable sentence.

    On the same note, reading helps me when I’m questioning every little decision I’ve made because someone else out there has done the same thing, and THEY got published. Which either indicates that its not a problem, or it’s not a deal breaker, and that helps me chill out about it.

  2. BJ Kurtz

    I love the not reading reviews and critiques. It just enhances those thoughts. I also agree that reading helps me. It not only tells me where I could improve, but also, like you said, shows me that others like me are there. Thanks for your thoughts!

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