The Bite of Self-Doubt

I’ve always been my own worst enemy. Nothing I do is ever quite good enough – I suppose you could say I’m a glass half empty person. So when it comes to my writing, I doubt I’ll ever come across a crueller critic than myself.

I started writing 4 years ago, when my second child became very ill at 6 weeks old. It made me truly appreciate how precious life is and I decided that I would dust off the cobwebs from that old ‘I’d love to write a book’ dream and give it a real go. I started with writing a short story and sent it off to a competition with a critique and waited to be told that my writing was rubbish and to get back to the day job pretty sharpish. To my utter disbelief, the story was placed second and was published in Writers’ Forum magazine. That first success felt like the first flickering of a flame from a pile of dying embers – maybe I could do this.

A few more successful short stories followed and kept the fire roaring. I knew that I wanted to write for children, so I started writing my first book. When it was finally complete I had it critiqued then sent it off to a publisher before I could convince myself that it wasn’t good enough. Then I waited. And waited. The publishers eventually got in touch to say they loved my story and would love to publish it. The euphoria that followed has lasted for months and I still find myself giving a jaunty little skip every now and again when I’m walking down the street. When the book is published next year, I have warned my family that I may well humanly-combust with excitement.

So why is this blog about self-doubt? Where does self-doubting come in now that I’m a ‘published’ author? Well, the story doesn’t end there. I write because I love to write and I can’t honestly imagine a time where I won’t write. I recently finished a new manuscript, closed my eyes and clicked send. Now it’s out there, festering away on a slush pile. I torture myself with checking my inbox umpteen times a day to find nothing, after which I sigh dejectedly and say, ‘Of course there’s nothing. It wasn’t good enough.’

I’ve learnt that publishing is a very slow business which leaves so much time for the crippling self-doubt to creep up on me. And that will never change. I’m working on a new manuscript and have had to put it aside as I’ve become so hung up on thinking that it’s not good enough, that it has become the enemy. I’ve become so convinced that no one else will love it that I haven’t been able to write another word of it.

So how do I get rid of this self-doubt? I have no idea. But I do know for certain that it won’t stop me from writing. With the new manuscript placed aside for now, I’ve really been enjoying writing short stories again. And when I’m ready to go back to my manuscript, I know that I’ll see it with fresh eyes and those dying embers will alight once again as my excitement and love for my story are re-ignited.

I’ll never get rid of my self-doubting, it’s a part of me. But I can live with it. And when it bites, I set that work in progress aside and work on something else until the pesky thing has had enough and decided to lie dormant for a while. It may slow me down a little, but it certainly won’t stop me.

So I’m off now to submit a short story to a competition, take another sneaky peak at my empty inbox, then get back to my long-rested story – I can already feel the bubbles of excitement and my fingers are starting to twitch. When that first draft is done, I’ll start plotting my next story.

Hwyl am y tro x


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