Monday, September 12, 2011

A Little Thing Called Doubt


Sometimes I feel like I want to give up. Which sounds stupid because I tell people not to all the time. Especially on my blog. I can't help feeling that way sometimes though. It's only natural to have that sneaky feeling called doubt creep in. Usually when you're already feeling down. He finds his way in, making you doubt your writing. Making you doubt everything you've worked for and makes you second guess if you really should be writing anything at all.

It sucks.

I hate those days. The days that I read over my WIP and realize I suck. That I won't get published in a million years. I always think to myself, "Why? Why am I doing this? There are so many people out there that are better than me."
And the truth is, there are. There are so many great writers  in this business. How could I ever compare to them?

I had a doozy of a week last week. Nothing specific happened to make me doubt myself, but I did just the same. I was stuck at home, sick with a stupid cough, laryngitis and pink eye in both eyes. In other words, I was feeling a little down. And then the doubt crept in. Crushing, horrible doubt that made me want to throw in the towel and stop writing all together. I don't think I've ever been that bad. But I was. As I think about last week though, I've realized what my problem is. 

I cannot compare myself to other writers.

I can't compare myself to them because I'm NOT them. I'm not someone else. I don't write like anyone else. I don't have the same journey as someone else. We are all unique. Everyone has their own strengths and weaknesses.  Their own struggles of self doubt. I'm sure even published authors go through this. I'm positive that they do. This business is tough. Everyone's path to publication is tough. Even if it doesn't seem like it. There are so many things that go on behind the scenes, that we have no idea what everyone else has gone through to get their book on the shelves. Everyone goes through tough things. Whether it's finding the right agent, being on submission for years and not selling a book, going through rounds of brutal edits that make you want to tear out your hair. Shelving a WIP you've worked your tail off on. It's hard.

Everyone has their own journey. And I'm starting to realize that if I'm in this for the long haul, I have to accept my own.

So, no more doubting. I have to believe in myself. I have to write more books. I have to hang on to you dear writing friends of mine and know that we have to help each other through the doubt. Through the pain of seeing others succeed and thinking we never will. We will succeed someday. We can do this. No matter where you are in your journey. We can do this.

How do you handle the doubt and discouragement when it comes to your own writing?

37 comments:

Reece said...

I set it aside and do something else, all the while letting the story or problem simmer in the back of my mind. I find that I come up with solutions better when I'm not worrying about them...kind of like Albert Einstein coming up with some of his most brilliant ideas while working in the patent office instead of in a laboratory or school room. This happens almost every time I get a critique back: I read through, fight the urge to scrap the whole thing, then set it aside and think about the comments. Usually, with time, I realize they're actually really good and would make my story stronger.

Jenny S. Morris said...

Thanks for sharing this! Also, I'm sorry you haven't felt well. It is easy to forget that everyone goes through doubt. You think, oh she has an agent, why would she doubt herself. But, we all do it. I'm not the greatest at getting over doubt, but one thing I do, is take out old e-mails or papers where someone has told me they like my writing. It makes me feel better. Hope your week goes better. ;0)

1000th.monkey said...

Funny, my writing group were just talking about this last week.

We have one member who is incredible prolific... he has SOOOOO many different ideas for stories and none of them are ever run-of-the-mill. I told him that if I ever tried to compare myself to him, I'd probably drown in depression.

I think every writer has something they do better than anyone else... I certainly see that among my writing group... each one has different strengths and different weaknesses.

I certainly hope you have a group of supportive CP's who not only point out your weaknesses, but also extol your strengths :)

Abby said...

Oh girl - you should not doubt! You are wonderful. And it's no wonder that the doubt crept in with you feeling so yucky anyway. I think that just happens. Its a test that we all have to face, not a fun one, but as we push through we discover new strength.

Katy said...

Oh, you are SO not alone! And you're right: Comparing yourself to other writers is fruitless and depressing (though I think we all do it from time to time!). I think it's incredibly important to have the support of a critique group... I know mine has talked me off the ledge dozens of times!

Here's to a better week for you. :)

Jessie Humphries said...

Such a heartfelt post...and I feel your pain. Pink eye in both eyes??? Really? Sucky. But I believe if you work hard enough at something, you can always achieve your goal.

Katie Dodge said...

Like Abby said,it's a test. I think it's to weed out the writers who kinda want it and those that HAVE to have it! You know? And just so you know, I will never let you quit. You are too good. I mean the words I speak! Get better! :D

Michelle Davidson Argyle said...

For me this hasn't gone away even after getting published. In fact, it only seems to get worse. The only way I can handle it is to sit down and look at my feelings as candidly and honestly as I can. I have to sort them out, get help from my hubby if I need, and move on. I have to look at far I've come and forgive myself for things I haven't been able to accomplish yet. Then get up and work harder. So much easier said in this comment than done. :)

Robin Weeks said...

Doubt Sucks. Stupid doubt. We hates it, precious!

I just remind myself how boring my [eventual] success story will be without some periods of struggle. Can you imagine? Would you rather read about someone (perhaps with the initials SM) who went from dream to contract in 6 months, or someone who struggled for years before finally crawling their way to victory? Would you rather inspire envy or BE inspiring?

Angie Cothran said...

Oh, I hope you get feeling better. Colds are the worst. I think I deal with doubt like I deal with everything else. I just ignore it :) I keep telling myself that if I just believe and work really hard I can make anything happen.

Mel Fowler said...

I remember WHY I'm writing. And maybe it's different for me because my story was a game my sisters and I would play during childhood.

I think if you remembe why you write and why you love it. Doubt will wane.

Steph Sinkhorn said...

Well said. Keep your head high!

Mostly, I just remind myself that I *know* I am a strong writer, I *know* I'm good at it, and I *know* it will happen for me eventually. In the event that I'm too down to even thing that way, I turn to my fiance, who does it for me ;)

Maggie said...

I'm so sorry you're feeling this. I struggle with it all the time and go into extended writing breaks that make me feel horrid.

Just think how many writers out there wish they were in your place though. You have an amazing blog, tons of followers, good writing friends and an agent--your writing must have some FANTASTIC qualities or you wouldn't have come this far. So many others are working hard to get to that point like you have. Keep your chin up and know you'll get there in Heavenly Father's time.

Melissa Sarno said...

I'm with you Chantele. Some days are easier than others, aren't they? I, too, try to remind myself that my journey is my own but it's hard sometimes. I hope you find ways to ease the doubt. If you ever need a lift, just reach out and let me know :)

Shari said...

I can so relate to the doubt, but I just keep going, keep writing, keep trying. My successes right now have to come in the small things I accomplish.

Sarah Pearson said...

I hope you're feeling better this week Chantele, hugs to you.

It's okay to have days where you doubt, but you know what? You know all those people that you reassure when they're having their own doubts? Well, we're here to reassure you when you have yours :-)

Miss Cole said...

It's funny how we all go through this same process. It must be essential, to keep us grounded to reality. If it was easy, everyone would be doing it!

When I doubt myself, I sit back and remember this is what I love and if I keep working at it, one day someone else will like my book enough to publish it.

Simon Kewin said...

Chantele,

Yep, that's a post I could definitely have written myself. I guess I've just come to understand that feelings liek this pass. Don't let the voices of doubt and negativity win!

Jennifer Groepl said...

Music always helps me when I'm in a "I suck" kind of mood. Dancing by myself. Hugs. Dark chocolate. A good run. Basically, any diversion that gets me through until inspiration strikes again and my mood lifts. :)

Michael Offutt said...

When you begin to doubt yourself it's time for friends and blog buddies to step in and offer their support of your work. I believe you can make it. So stop doubting yourself because soon you will be a winner.

Chantele Sedgwick said...

@ReeceThank you for your comment, Reece. Critiques are awesome and yet hard to take at the same time. You know? :)
@Jenny S. Morris Thank you, Jenny! I'm feeling a little bit better now. You're awesome!
@1000th.monkey I definitely do have great CP's. I don't know what I'd do without them! Thanks for stopping by! :)
@Abby I agree. It happens to everyone and I'm lucky enough to have so many people to pull me back up! :)
@Katy I do have amazing critique partners and I'm so lucky to have them. Thank you so much! :)
@Jessie Humphries I know, right? Who gets pinkeye in both eyes? Me, apparently. ;) Thanks so much for your support! You are awesome! :)
@Katie DodgeOh, Katie. I know you won't let me quit. You're so naggy! LOL I'm totally kidding. You are the best, best, BEST! :D
@Michelle Davidson Argyle Thanks for your comment, Michelle. It's good to know that published authors feel the same was as I do at times. :)
@Robin Weeks It does suck, right? :) And you're totally right. I'd rather be inspiring. ;)
@Angie Cothran I totally agree. If I keep working, things WILL happen eventually. :)
@Mel Fowler Your story sounds very intriguing! And I do love writing. I really do. And I won't quit. I'm no quitter. :)
@Steph Sinkhorn Thank you so much! I have to remember to remind myself those things. And my crit partners help a lot as well. And you guys. I love my readers and all of your sweet comments. :)
@Maggie Oh, Maggie. You make me cry. Thank you so much for your sweet comment. I am very blessed to have so many people who care about me. And to have so many friends I've met in this awesome writing community. I know things will work out. When the time is right. :)
@Melissa Sarno Thank you for your sweet comment, Melissa. I will definitely reach out if I need a lift again. And I'm sure it will happen sooner than later! :)
@Shari I agree. I'm just going to keep writing. Keep trying. I'll eventually accomplish what I'm trying to accomplish when the time is right. :)
@Sarah Pearson I know. You guys totally rock. I don't know what I'd do without all of these wonderful comments and all of my writing friends. You guys are so awesome.
@Miss Cole I agree. If it was easy, everyone and their dog would have a book published. ;) And I do love writing. I do. Things will happen when they are supposed to. :)
@Simon Kewin Thank you for your comment, Simon. I agree. Don't let doubt and negativity win! I love writing and that's all that matters. :)
@Jennifer Groepl I love hugs. And music. And running. I do love milk chocolate though. ;) Thank you so much for your sweet comment.

Chantele Sedgwick said...

@Michael Offutt Thanks, Michael. This community is so supportive. I don't know what I would do without you guys. :)

Ruth Josse said...

When you're having a hard time believing in yourself, let others believe for you.

Chantele, I believe in you! No doubt:)

Angela Ackerman said...

I LOVE what Ruth said. Truly, this is what keeps me going...knowing others believe when I just can't see it myself.

Angela @ The Bookshelf Muse

Amber Argyle, author said...

I'm a published author and I still have those moments.

Jessie Oliveros said...

You should never take yourself seriously when you are sick. :) You are right. There is always somebody better, but nobody is YOU. Great post.

Heidi Tighe said...

I believe in my suckage as a foregone conclusion, which is why I resisted writing for so many years. I only started writing when I realized that not writing because I was well aware of my suckage was making me miserable. Now I'm seeing if writing despite the fact that I'm well aware of my suckage makes me less miserable.

Hmmm. I sound really depressing, but I promise I'm pretty content.

allie said...

The only way to really fail is to stop writing, or not finish anything. I think the key is to focus on not doing either of the above and we'll be fine. At least that's what I try and tell myself.

As for not feeling well, that was me a couple of weeks ago - big cold that took ages to get rid.

I hope you're feeling better now. :)

Karen deBlieck said...

I'm sending lots of cyber hugs your way. I definately have those days (weeks...months...years...). I just keep writing personally. You can suck and learn to write well. Nothing happens to your gift if you just sit in your Lazy-boy eating icing and bemoaning how much you suck.
To brighten your day...an award for you: http://simplyscribblings.blogspot.com/

JEFritz said...

I remind myself I'm not the best judge of my own writing and keep going. :)

Meredith said...

Ugh, I hate those times. If I can, I like to take a break for a couple of days--go for walks, visit with friends and family, get my mind off of it. Just know that you will pull through it and fall in love with your book again. I hope you're feeling better!

Nicole said...

Sorry to hear you're stuck in the slumps right now! We've all been there. Like others, I usually go through a whole string of emotions and frustrations, but I've learned that the muse, the writing, and the love ALWAYS return eventually.

You're absolutely right - don't compare yourself to others, be patient and have faith!

Alison Miller said...

Thank you so much for this post! I doubt myself ALL the time, but I find great solace in my writing friends and in my family. And sometimes I just go back and read a piece of my work that moves me, and that keeps me going.

But you're right. We all have a different journey. And sometimes it's important to recognize that the journey is just as, if not more enthralling, then the final destination.

Chantele Sedgwick said...

@Ruth Josse Thank you, Ruth! I heart you!
@Angela Ackerman Me too, Angela. It's so nice having other writer friends to lift me up when I'm down. :)
@Amber Argyle, author I think everyone has them one time or another. :)
@Jessie Oliveros Thanks, Jessie! I'm on the mend now. Hopefully I'll get my normal attitude back! lol
@Heidi Tighe Yes, I so agree. I would be miserable if I didn't write. And you don't suck! Unless it's a first draft since every first draft sucks! :)
@allie I am feeling a lot better. Thank you!! And I won't stop writing. It's too much a part of me now. I couldn't just stop. :)
@Karen deBlieck Thank you for the hugs! And the award! You are so sweet! :)
@JEFritz True, that. Thanks for the reminder. :)
@Meredith Thank you! I know I'll pull through it. And I'm feeling much better this week. :)
@Nicole I'm feeling much better after reading all of these comments. I love knowing I'm not alone. Thank you!!
@Alison Miller Writing friends are the best, right? And my bloggy friends. You guys are so amazing and awesome. Thank you. :)

Eve.E said...

hello there i am in your fantasy group. I thought I would pop by and say"hi". Love the blog. :)

Kaylee Baldwin said...

I get in those doubting modes too sometimes. I think everyone does, and if they haven't yet--they will. I think you hit the nail right on the head--the major downfall we have is comparing ourselves to others. It is so hard not to compare ourselves to other writers, for good or for bad. I guess you always have to ask yourself in those moments WHY you're writing. Are you writing to make money or are you writing because you love it? And if you're not so much loving it right then, why?

Good luck! I can't wait to read your books :)

linda said...

Thank you for this post! I struggle with doubt, too, and wanting to give up. Thanks for the reminder to keep trying, and I hope you're not feeling as sick any more!