1. EricaJRothwell
    Offline

    EricaJRothwell Active Member

    Joined:
    May 4, 2010
    Messages:
    112
    Likes Received:
    19
    Location:
    London

    Crippling self doubt literally stopping me from writing

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by EricaJRothwell, Aug 16, 2015.

    Hi all,

    Everytime I start to write I am overcome by this crippling feeling of self doubt. I'm just not good enough, I keep on comparing myself to other writers and I feel so inadequate. It's stopping me from actually writing anything. I usually only get a few paragraphs in and I have to stop, frustrated and insecure.

    Does anyone else experience the same thing, and does anyone have any advice on how to overcome these feelings?
     
  2. GuardianWynn
    Offline

    GuardianWynn Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 12, 2014
    Messages:
    2,088
    Likes Received:
    672
    Me? Yes and no actually.

    I do have a sense of doubt. I do have moments where I feel like I have been climbing FOREVER and I think I see the peak of the mountain and all my hard work and effort are finally paying off and the punch line after I piece the clouds? I haven't even started the clouds have hidden the true peak and all the effort has only gotten me 5% of the way and that sense of dread comes over me. Sort of a "If 5% has me this exhausted? What chance do I have? I should just give up."

    Is that what you mean? If so yes I feel that.

    Does that stop me from writing? No. But I think the main reason it doesn't is this.

    The realization of something. Imagine if that peak had been true and I did indeed make it to the top. I am only 24 years old. If I could make it to the top so soon. So easily. Then so what? I imagine before long I would be bored and no longer care. The fact that I have to keep working. That in 30 years when I am fifty five I still might not be at the top is actually appealing. Because the view from where I stand is amazing but how much better is the view going to be after 30 more years of climbing?

    I eagerly await to find out.

    Doubt is normal and I think at many points helpful. But it is a personal demon we all most learn to overcome one way or another. As I am sure you know people on here would probably love to give you advice and help you over that troubling spot that seems hard to overcome.

    Also I bet most will agree. Your attitude is very refreshing especially over people that are over confident. They tend to be so confident that they think they are already at the top and expecting praise for work that hasn't earned it. I find it hard to talk to people like that.

    Hope that helps. And I wish you luck. :)
     
  3. OurJud
    Offline

    OurJud Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    May 21, 2009
    Messages:
    2,028
    Likes Received:
    942
    Location:
    England
    Virtually every writer has these feelings... I imagine.

    However, you asked for advice so I'll give it. As you're reading this you may think it's a little odd and wonder where I'm going, but hear me out.

    I don't know what you like to read / write, so what I'm about to suggest may not immediately appeal, but go to amazon and search for a book called The Motel Life by Willy Vlautin. And then order it.

    The book is a bona fide publication (not self-published) and heaped in praise from the likes of The Times, Independent, etc. It was even made into an excellent and highly praised film.

    When it arrives, read it.

    No other book I've ever read has made me think, 'I can do this' to the extent this one does. The writing and story-telling technique he uses is beautifully simple.

    It's hard to put into words what I mean, without sounding somehow derogatory towards the author, but reading TML has exactly the opposite effect reading a complex, high-brow novel does. You read the latter and think, 'Wow, if this is what it takes to get published and taken seriously, I'm stuffed'. But then you read The Motel Life and come away truly believing it's something you could do.

    Now I'm not suggesting you carbon copy his style, but just look at how simply he describes a scene, presents dialogue, starts a new chapter...

    When I start getting dejected by my own standard, I just pick up this book and read a couple of paragraphs, and it inspires me no end.
     
    Last edited: Aug 16, 2015
    Drummy49 likes this.
  4. EricaJRothwell
    Offline

    EricaJRothwell Active Member

    Joined:
    May 4, 2010
    Messages:
    112
    Likes Received:
    19
    Location:
    London
    Hey :)

    Thanks for replying.

    That's not what I was referring to but I also get that feeling. I mean that as I'm writing I'm being so harsh on my writing ability. There is this nagging voice in my head that is constantly criticising every word that I type so that I struggle to write anything so I just end up giving up. Gah! Its quite bad at the moment, I'm writing one paragraph and then stopping. Then I'm forcing myself to write again...it's a vicious cycle. I need to learn to just write, not think.
     
  5. EricaJRothwell
    Offline

    EricaJRothwell Active Member

    Joined:
    May 4, 2010
    Messages:
    112
    Likes Received:
    19
    Location:
    London

    Thank you. I'm going to search for an exert right now, I need it! Its like my mind is split into two, one overly confident and the other debilitatingly self critical...whenever I read something I find myself telling myself, I could write this. Then I come to write and this self doubt starts again.
     
  6. ladybird
    Offline

    ladybird Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jul 7, 2013
    Messages:
    269
    Likes Received:
    81
    In a nutshell, yes. I was crippled by self doubt and to a certain degree I still am.

    How do I try and overcome it? Still WIP :)
    - If I'm entering a writing or poetry challenge I refuse to read the other entries prior to writing my story and entering.
    - Accepting the fact there will always be writers who are more talented than me, and everyone has their own style.
    - Write from the heart without using the head. Daft idea but it works for me.
    - Practice writing prose or poetry every day. Write something - learn something new.

    It's a tough one, Erica, and what works for one person will not necessarily work for you. If you want a writing buddy when you are feeling down you are always welcome to message me :)
     
  7. OurJud
    Offline

    OurJud Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    May 21, 2009
    Messages:
    2,028
    Likes Received:
    942
    Location:
    England
    It's perfectly normal.

    If the belief is there, the ability probably is.

    My real sympathy lies with those people who clearly can't write, and yet are blind to the fact and have absolutely no self-doubt. They're the ones with the real problem.
     
  8. TWErvin2
    Offline

    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2006
    Messages:
    2,529
    Likes Received:
    561
    Location:
    Ohio, USA
    You need to remember that the first draft you write is not the final version of what you will have. It's going to be improved during editing and revision, but if you don't finish that first draft, you'll never have a final draft.

    The only thing you can do is sit down and press on despite the doubts. In the end, what do you have to lose, but time and effort? Because there is no guarantee of success (however you want to measure it) at the end of the exercise (creating the best story you're capable of). The one thing you do have as an advantage over writers in the past is that self-publishing is a viable option, if your initial goal is to find a trade/traditional publisher and it doesn't work out). As little as a decade ago, that wasn't as viable of an option as it is today.

    So press on, knowing that your first draft isn't going to measure up to someone else's published final draft.
     
  9. EricaJRothwell
    Offline

    EricaJRothwell Active Member

    Joined:
    May 4, 2010
    Messages:
    112
    Likes Received:
    19
    Location:
    London
    Thank you for your response! I'll take you up on that offer! You've offered some solid advice there, I need to just keep writing and not over thinking everything...at least until the editing phase, which I've never, ever gotten to lol
     
    ladybird likes this.
  10. EricaJRothwell
    Offline

    EricaJRothwell Active Member

    Joined:
    May 4, 2010
    Messages:
    112
    Likes Received:
    19
    Location:
    London
    I've just read the first chapter, I see what you mean. That's helped me A LOT. Thank you.

    Hahaha, yeah you've got a point. I supposed it's like that theory that if you question that you're crazy then you're probably not.
     
    OurJud likes this.
  11. EricaJRothwell
    Offline

    EricaJRothwell Active Member

    Joined:
    May 4, 2010
    Messages:
    112
    Likes Received:
    19
    Location:
    London
    Wise words. Thanks! Write, write, write. As long as I'm writing, I'm achieving something.
     
  12. Aled James Taylor
    Offline

    Aled James Taylor Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2013
    Messages:
    784
    Likes Received:
    462
    Location:
    UK
    I perceive writing more as an editing process. I make a start by throwing some words down and then try to sort out the mess that I've made. You're not writing in stone. The first draft of anything isn't going to be good, or even good enough, but that's okay because it doesn't have to be. You have a long editing process ahead of you and what matters in the quality of the final draft. So don't worry about making mistakes, life is full of mistakes. The trick is, knowing which ones to keep.
     

Share This Page