Jun 24, 2014

Creativity and Self-doubt

 By Lucinda Whitney

Today we're talking about self-doubt:


As a creative person, I like to have feedback on my creations. For me, this means opinions on my writing and stories. Since I haven't published yet, the experiences I've had with feedback thus far are with beta readers. I had quite a few last year (about twelve of them) after I finished the first edits on my first book. Despite the corrections, I was highly encouraged by the positive responses to my characters and their story. It actually helped me stay on track knowing that readers had enjoyed it.

For published authors, the positive reviews on Amazon, Goodreads, blogs, etc, are a good indicator that readers love their stories and characters.
But what do you do when the feedback is less than positive, even when the criticism is meant to help you grow? I tell you, it's hard to take and it leads to a lot of self-doubt. It's easy to fall into a pattern of "maybe I don't know what I'm doing", and "maybe nobody will ever like it". Self-doubt is like the seed of a weed—once it takes root, it's hard to yank it out.

Recently I got my manuscript back from my editor. I hired her on an excellent recommendation. She's experienced and I trust her experience and opinions. Plus, I know her goal is to help me with my story. She had lots of good things to say about my story, characters, setting, overall proper writing mechanics, but there were also lots of corrections. This is really why I hired her, to see where my problems are. But knowing this doesn't make it any easier to deal with those edits. And knowing the story so well with all the time I've spent working on it means I'm too close to it, and it's all too personal. I can see the problems but I can't see the solutions. Talk about major insecurity.

I was left with a simple decision—give up on my story, or believe I can make it better. As hard it was to think about it, it was also an easy decision to make: I believe in my story and characters, therefore I believe in continuing with the work, no matter how hard it is and how long it will take.

After talking it over with some writer friends, I concentrated on the positive and turned my back on self-doubt. I know it will still pop up unannounced, and more often than I care for, but keeping my goal and my belief in the story and characters are the reminders I need to not give up.  

What are some of the trusted ways you use to get over discouragement and self-doubt?


  1. There will always be negative reviews, no matter how much we edit our work. The hard thing is that, once the book is out, you can't do much about that kind of criticism. With beta readers and editors, at least you can fix the problems before the book is published. I try to worry more about the criticism I get before publication. Afterward, I just write the next book. Writing is the most encouraging thing for me.

    1. Absolutely. Being able to use beta readers and editors and fix the problems before the book is published is essential. The good thing about indie publishing is having access to the files and being able to correct any other mistakes that pop up, which doesn't happen with traditional publishing.

  2. I'm a content editor for an online publishing company, and I can tell you from that angle, we hate to send those kinds of edits back. I have an unpublished author bucking me on my suggestions because "her" beta readers told her all was well, my beta readers told her the truth. Hey you just gave me an idea for my next blog post. Thx and good luck.


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