Monday, October 31, 2011

Others have said... Believe in yourself.

Hi all! Before I go into the post proper, I just want to announce the winner of Monarch by Michelle Davidson Argyle. And the winner as chosen by is...

Angela Brown!



Sylvia Plath

And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt. 
Sylvia Plath

I recently rejoined a writers forum that I belonged to just before I started blogging. I don't do the public posting of my writing for critiques thing, though, so I usually dig through the threads looking for something that I can reply to.

One of the threads was created by a new writer who lamented her inexperience. She described how happy she was in outlining the plot for an idea she had and how excited she was about it. Then she had to do a project for school where she wrote about J.K. Rowling. When she got back to her own work, she was hit by a mountain of self-doubt. Nothing looked good enough. Why?

Because she convinced herself that her book will never become the next Harry Potter.

She found out the hard way why self doubt is creativity's worst enemy. It's like a weed that chokes out creativity with discouragement. Because lets face it. If the book isn't going to be as good as you want it to be, what's the point of starting?

This is such a destructive and unnecessary thinking pattern, because for all we know, that girl's book might just become something worth reading. She needs to give her idea a chance to survive.
All writers are hit by doubts, but we have to keep going, or else nothing would get written. Here's what I think once my self-doubt starts gunning for me.

  • J.K. Rowling probably had a ton of doubts too. She just cared enough for her idea to work through it.
  • Doubt does not go away because you constantly try to fix every single thing you've written. It goes away when you realize that what you've written is good enough. For now.
  • Self-doubt can make for one awesome editor if you starve it for long enough. Keep writing.
  • Maybe it's time to take a leap of faith. Maybe your idea isn't the next Harry Potter. Twilight wasn't either. Stop comparing and break some boundaries.
  • Last but not least: No matter how good you are, you can't fix what isn't written.

Anyone else got hit by self-doubt lately? If you're an old hand at writing, how do you get yourself out of the self-doubt rut? If you're new, are you dealing with it alright? How do you escape your doubts?


  1. I have awesome writing friends who cheer me out of my self-doubts. The thing to remember is we all suffer from self-doubts at one point or another. Even the best selling novelists aren't immuned to it.

  2. Even after five books, I still get hit with self-doubt.

    But then I get a great review and realize someone still loves me. LOL.

  3. You can fix what isn't written... wise, wise words. This is a wonderful post, Misha!

  4. Hi Misha

    I wish I had pearls of wisdom to give, but alas, I have none.

    I was going to write a story based on my five year old nephew, Harry, called Harry Snotter. But, I fear I’m getting off the subject.

    Hope you’re well?

    WARNING: do not click here!

  5. Passion trumps doubt all the time...and thank heavens, because otherwise I couldn't write a word.

  6. I fight self doubt all the time. And I don't always win. I've set aside many works because I didn't think they were good enough. Then I'll pick one up after a year or so and give it a read and think "that isn't so bad."

    It's tough being crazy. :PP

  7. Excellent place for the Plath quote.

    Self doubt? No, I don't think so. Or do I?

  8. So great! I want to take those bullet points and put them above my desk.

    Sarah Allen
    (my creative writing blog)

  9. Sylvia Plath is such a fantastic poet and is probably my favorite of all of them out there. I wish she hadn't killed herself. That just throws a spectre over every "advice" that she might have because I know that the woman needed some serious help.

  10. Self-doubt can stop a person from accomplishing so many things. Great post.

  11. Wonderful post, Misha. And perfect timing, too, since I'll be starting NaNoWriMo tomorrow!

  12. Self-doubt. Oh, yes, I hear you on that. I treat it like a cold--lots of hot tea, an occasional tissue for the tears of self-doubt, and patience. Like a bad cold, self-doubt passes, especially if you realize it will and don't give into its temptation to quit.

  13. My self doubt had cricified my writing, I'll get back on it tonight.

  14. I doubt most of what I write, but write it anyway. Remember the words, paraphrased, of Hemingway, in no particular order:

    H: All first drafts are s.t.

    - Eric

  15. When self-doubt gets in the way,you must bring into play your love for what you do to help you overcome it. Don't forget about your spirituality either, it can be a powerful tool.


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