What To Do When Battling Self-Doubt

These past two weeks at my job have been the hardest I’ve had in years. Not because of a potential job loss or trouble with a coworker or boss but because it’s so busy my brain literally hurts when I leave.

Last week, in the midst of this furious pace, I had a thought I haven’t had in a long time. A little voice stepped up to the podium in my mind and declared that no matter how hard I try I will never be a writer.

It also added, as if one leads into another, that I am a terrible public speaker, I’m not good on video or encouraging people, and my fiction is terrible too so I better just stop and save myself the pain of rejection.

The strange part about this thought process? less than twelve hours before this thought, I shared my 2016 goals with my writers group. I said I was thrilled about the possibilities that this year holds.

Self-doubt is a sneaky little jerk. I know that I am a writer. I know that I did a decent job in my last conference talk, however, I was foolish to believe that I was over self-doubt because it was simply waiting, lurking around the corner, until my guard was down.

Want to know how I stopped that voice speaking in my head? The same way I stopped a goalie that would heckle me during a hockey game.

I went to work.

I became competitive and started writing this post even as the voice grew louder. The surprising thing? I can still hear its voice but I am no longer afraid. It’s like a tiger in a cage at the moment. I am no longer frozen in fear, with the thought I cannot write because I just did. And soon I’ll publish this post and get some edits in on my next e-book.

Self-doubt never leaves us. But it’s what we do in response that says who we are. Sometimes self-doubt is reinforced by a dry spell of writing or in the form of an off handed joke by an uncle or cousin or parent or friend.

Keep in mind that Someone laughed at Disney’s dream, but he kept working anyway. So should you.


15 thoughts on “What To Do When Battling Self-Doubt

  1. I get that voice a lot, even when I am excited about a piece, but I just hammer through it. This voice is an important part of being a writer. It keeps us from becoming too complacent with our skill level and it keeps us grounded and focussed. You just need to realise that you have to write despite interferences from that voice. It’s a conscious decision you make. You write even at times when you don’t feel like writing. I tell myself that certain famous writers also felt like this but that they kept writing despite their insecurities because they had to. Because nothing compared to the need to write.

    1. I love that thought. That’s an interesting twist. That writers may actually need this voice to stop us from getting too complacent in our skill level. I might have to steal that one, it’s genius. I hope that’s okay!

      On Mon, Jan 18, 2016 at 7:17 AM, PART-TIME NOVEL wrote:


  2. I get this voice in my head all the time! It whispers things like: “You will never be able to top . . . .” or “You aren’t really creative, just recycling old material.”

    The way I get through it is the same way I interact with other people. I’m an extrovert, a lot of my friends (especially my introverted friends) think I can make friends anywhere, anytime. They don’t hear what goes on in my head. “No one likes you.” “What you just said was stupid.” “You’ll never be able to top that last story.” “Now you’re just recycling old material.”

    I get through it because I know I’m an extrovert; I know I have been carefully crafted to enjoy interacting with others and any time I shy away from that calling, there’s an issue. One of my college mentors (Actually, one of Susie Finkbeiner’s older sisters) said she recognized times like that as an attack. Ever since then, I view it as a challenge.

    So, whether I’m sitting at home writing, or out enjoying coffee, anytime I’m tempted to shy away from my calling, I charge instead. No one has a right to put limits on me, not even the voice in my head. I will talk to people if I want to talk to people and I will write if I want to write!

    1. Love this. Kick that voice in the throat, put a muffle on it, and keep moving forward Nathan!

      Also, when you start to moving closer to what you really want it’ll get louder and louder, tell it to be quiet!

      On Mon, Jan 18, 2016 at 9:46 AM, PART-TIME NOVEL wrote:


  3. Self-doubt is a huge voice in my head. I am just now learning to stop letting it cripple me, and to charge forward. It’s hard because I often want to crawl in bed and tell the self-doubt that it’s right, I suck at what I am doing. But now, I try to speak louder with self confidence in my head, then laugh at the self-doubt when I produce something good. Thank you for this post. 🙂

    1. Christine, being able to laugh in the face of self-doubt is a great ability to have! Maybe you are not where you want to be now but who knows where you may be in 2 years if you keep working? Keep it up.

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