A Writer’s Journey: From Doubt to Confidence and Back

1412656_farmland_sunsetFellow writers: do you find that your belief in your abilities waxes and wanes with the days? I’ve been writing for ten years, but only this year entered the ranks of the published. I’ve a huge month looming in November–the release of my second novel and my first attempt at NaNoWriMo–and how I feel about everything just keeps shifting back and forth. One moment I’ll thrilled at the thought of the challenge and I’m really excited, and the next I’m scared out of my mind. I start panicking and wishing I had more time to work with “The Magic Council” before I let it out.

I realize as I edit how much I’ve grown as a writer, and while that’s definitely a good thing, it makes me worry about the quality of the first novel I released. Reviews have been good and I’ve gotten positive feedback, but I’m definitely a perfectionist, and I just KNOW that I’ll never be satisfied with the book, even though I spent years editing it, listened to beta readers and their suggestions along the way, and can recognize the time had come to get it out into the world.

THE BENEFIT OF THE DOUBT

When my confidence really sinks, I remind myself that it’s a good thing to realize my work isn’t perfect. You can’t grow as an artist–heck, you can’t grow as a person–until you realize that no matter the raw talent you possess and the perspiration you pour into your work, you still have room for improvement and always will. Recognizing that fact is the first step to making those improvements. If I didn’t worry about my manuscript and making it as good as possible, I wouldn’t be going through it one last time making minor edits that, honestly, I’m really excited about, because they’re small but I think they make a big difference in making the text more readable.

For me, remembering this aspect of my doubts–focusing on the benefits of not being over-confident–helps boost my confidence back to a healthy level. I’m curious: how do other writers deal with doubting themselves? For me, the worst moments come when I look at a passage I just loved and thought was great when I wrote it, but now I realize it needs a lot of work. What parts of the writing process boost or sink your belief in yourself? I’d love to get a conversation going about this!

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10 responses to “A Writer’s Journey: From Doubt to Confidence and Back

  1. What parts of the writing process boost or sink your belief in yourself?

    The editing process tends to torpedo my self-belief. Mostly due to all the grammer mistakes in my work. I really need to find a reliable editor/beta reader.

  2. My confidence waxes and wanes over the course of minutes, not days! I love reworking what has already been written. That’s my favorite part of the process and one I feel more confident about than the actual writing. I’m doing NaNoWriMo for the first time this year and this is the reason I decided to do it – forcing myself to write, write , write and not edit as I go. It’s going to be painful!

  3. You are not alone. It is exactly the same for me. I am editing what I hope will be my 3rd novel at the moment – and have taken to grinding my teeth.I do think that each time you edit, whether you slightly tweak or completely re-write a section you are adding another level of depth. That’s what I tell myself anyway. But yes- some days it is soooo tedious and other days are inspired. But either way, I don’t want to do anything else.

  4. My confidence fluctuates as I write, even now. When I struggle to get a good, well-structured sentence down, I get insecure about my writing. But when I can do it freely, I feel like I still have it. But like others said, when I look over what I wrote and see the various mistakes, it’s like hitting a brick wall. That’s why I keep a journal about my writing so I could write down my pep talks, boost my confidence and remind myself everything is going to be OK.

    • wow, Megan, thanks for the tip about a journal. That’s an excellent idea I think a lot of people (me included!) could benefit from. I’d never considered that before.

  5. Pingback: Why Writing Takes Faith of a Kind: And Why That’s Good | Creative Writing with the Crimson League

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