Insecurity And Self-Doubt Stall Your Writing

Photo by bruce mars on Unsplash

In the English class of Secondary 2 (Grade 8 outside Quebec), whenever we learned a new verb or tense, I would invent a fragment of a story as practice. Other classmates tried to imitate my concept but failed.

{TANGENT: I wish I still had these. As Robert Heinlein said, “Finish what you start”. I left a lot unfinished then.}

Flash forward to Junior College. I took Creative Writing. Like in English I came up with many unfinished ideas. The teacher praised them.

Based on that praise I enrolled in Creative Writing 2 the next semester.

That was a mistake.

We had the same teacher, but he was stricter and focussed on more literate fiction, so my genre tastes were out. He assigned us an essay on a story by Edgar Allan Poe. That story overwhelmed the entire class, so nobody wrote the essay. Frustrated, he canceled the assignment. I think I could appreciate it now, but that’s not the point.

The class intimidated me and destroyed my confidence to write. Until 2002 I mostly wrote only non-fiction and a small handful of fiction bits. What caused a change?

NaNoWriMo

The emphasis of quantity over quality, just getting a story out of my head and onto the page, helped me to stop second-guessing myself-at first.

(More on this soon.)

Don’t get it right. Get it written.

Lord Tennison?

I succeeded four times in a row and nine more times not (maybe I was over-thinking more, writing less)… but there’s another reason:

Doubt

Despite a habit to combat it, despite every attempt to beat it… it’s still there. Doubt can still cripple me. You too.

How do you combat it?

Just suck it up, and write.

Photo by bruce mars on Unsplash

The fear, the self-doubt… it’s always there. It hits many other writers:

Likely you’ve heard of Neil Gaiman. Award-winning Sandman graphic novel author. Most of his books have been successful, some have won those awards.

Does he feel confident when he writes?

No. He calls his agent in a panic, feeling he’s a failure, unsure he can finish his latest project.

This article doesn’t offer a concrete solution to doubts and fears when writing, just that these feelings affect everyone.

Get a short story.

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Determined writer. NaNoWriMo Ace (4 wins in a row) 2002–06. In it until 2011. Many RPG publications too.

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Jeffrey Allan Boman

Jeffrey Allan Boman

Determined writer. NaNoWriMo Ace (4 wins in a row) 2002–06. In it until 2011. Many RPG publications too.

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